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The Golden Age of Fans

From the Sun King to Marie-Antoinette
From 14 November to 02 March 2014

This exhibition pays tribute to the exquisite skill of French fan-makers, casting new light on the extraordinary creativity embodied in these delicate, discreet works of art.

The fan is an object at once familiar and misunderstood. Works of art masquerading as simple accessories, fans combine a craftsman’s skill with an artist’s creative vision. Subject to the whims of fashion, fans were constantly being reinvented. Imported into Renaissance Europe amidst the exotic silks and spices of the Orient, the fan became a common sight in France during the reign of Louis XIV. A guild of master fan-makers was founded in 1676, rapidly establishing France’s reputation for producing the best fans in Europe. Over the course of the eighteenth century, Paris came to be seen as Europe’s fan capital. The designs which adorned these fans took their cues from current artistic fashions, helping spread the reputation of French painters throughout Europe while also demonstrating a remarkable stylistic diversity. You could find almost any subject on a fan: from mythological and historical scenes to religious subjects and even romantic scenes. Fan-makers also drew inspiration from daily life at court or in Paris, or memorable events such as royal births and weddings, military victories and public festivals. Featuring seventy pieces on loan from public and private collections all over the world, this exhibition at the Musée Cognacq-Jay pays homage to the peerless skill of French fan-makers, the majority of whom were based in Paris, celebrating the extraordinary skill and creativity which went into crafting these delicate, discreet works of art.

Curators:
José de Los Llanos, Director of the Musée Cognacq-Jay
Georgina Letourmy-Bordier, Doctor of Art History 
 

Discover the video of the exhibition : 


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