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Culture:Austrian or German
Medium:Leaf: gouache and bronze paint on paper. Sticks and guards: mother-of-pearl, carved, pierced and veneered, decorated with gold-and-silver-toned metal leaf. Pivot: green paste jewel.
Dimensions:Length: 26.7 cm. (guard sticks) Width: 45.7 cm. (open)
Credit Line:Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Typical of many eighteenth-century fans, the decoration of this piece alludes to love. The scene is a small banquet set at a U-shaped table in a garden pavilion with the meal approaching its conclusion. The table is laid for the dessert course, with dishes containing fruit and other confections, and a few champagne bottles scattered about. Some of the diners have left the table, and the remaining guests are engaged in conversation in pairs. The couple sitting at the head of the table, and occupying the central position on the fan, look fondly into each other’s eyes as the man holds the woman’s hand and she caresses his face. Many extant French fans referred to as “marriage fans” clearly depict formal wedding ceremonies or lovers from popular literature and mythological tales. Such objects were often given to brides as wedding gifts. Although it is not certain that the lively party depicted here is indeed a wedding banquet, the illustration of what appears to be a game of blindman’s buff on the sticks reinforces the reference to amorousness. The representation of the cheerful gathering, and the allusion to love being a game of chance, make this fan a charming and lighthearted commentary on the benefits as well as the pitfalls of love and marriage. As with most European fans, the decoration of the reverse is more sparse than the obverse and a common type of pastoral scene is shown. The presence of the young couple in the center reflects the amorous theme of the obverse. Folding fans were de rigeur accessories for European women in the eighteenth century, when the fashions of the French court influenced all of western Europe. Therefore, it is often difficult to attribute fans to a particular locale of manufacture.(1) The architecture of the fantastic garden pavilion in which the banquet takes place is strongly reminiscent of the style of the French artist Jacques de Lajoüe (1686 – 1761), which often obscured the distinction between interior and exterior. His work was widely known all over Europe through engravings, and his designs were clearly intended for adaptation in various media. The title page and several other plates of his Livre d’Architecture, Païsages et Perspectives, Troisième Partie, published about 1740, have many of the features of the pavilion on the fan: arched columns covered with trellises and female statues in niches, as well as fountains to one side; all of the architecture has an insubstantial quality.(2) However, the banquet scene on the front of this fan has a kind of relaxed informality that brings to mind illustrations of the Austrian nobility, as do the table settings.(3) The dress conforms to the silhouette and palette of the 1760s, with colors reminiscent of the porcelains of the Austrian and German manufactories, suggesting that this fan might be a product of that region, rather than of France, as was formerly attributed.(4)
Catalogue entry from: Melinda Watt. The Robert Lehman Collection. Decorative Arts, Vol. XV. Wolfram Koeppe, et al. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 397-398.
NOTES: 1. See Mortier, Bianca M. du. Waaiers en waaierbladen, 1650 – 1800 / Fans and Fan Leaves, 1650 – 1800. Amsterdam and Zwolle, 1992, pp. 6 – 7, for a frank and concise explanation of some of the difficulties of attributing a place of manufacture to European fans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 2. See Roland Michel, Marianne. Lajoüe et l’art rocaille. Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1982, especially figs. 403, 406. I am grateful to Wolfram Koeppe for bringing this reference to my attention. 3. For illustrations of eighteenth-century Austrian table settings, see Vienna circa 1780: An Imperial Silver Service Rediscovered. Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 13 April – 7 November 2010. Catalogue by Wolfram Koeppe. New York, 2010, specifically p. 12, fig. 4, showing a 1766 engagement banquet with a U-shaped table, and p. 72, no. 44, showing a diagram for a 1781 banquet at a large U-shaped table. 4. I am grateful to Jeffrey Munger, curator, and Elizabeth Sullivan, research assistant, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Robert Lehman, New York
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Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)
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