Today I went to see an exhibition The Golden Age of Fans, it is in the Marais, in a small, inexpensive museum called Cognacq-Jay. What I enjoyed most about it were all the old ladies that came to see it, shuffling around, whispering about the fans their grandmothers used to have. Did I learn anything? It’s hard to tell. I saw a very interesting fan with pornographic images: the images were too small to see without a magnifying glass; fortunately the museum supplied a very nice one. So I was lining up with the old ladies to study the miniatures…. No, I haven’t learned anything new that way….
Yet there was a piece of information that has shocked me: Most of the XVII and XVIII century fans were first painted as regular pictures, and then cut and folded! They even offered a few examples. If you look carefully at the painting above, you’ll be able to see the outlines for such a cut already projected onto the canvass.
Also see Secret Language: Fanning at Versailles.