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The fan is made of paper, with an ivory handle and ribbing. On the paper, there are scenes drawn using a visual technique, painted with gouache. The main scene on the fan shows a couple embracing on a bridge in an English garden. At the couple’s feet, a cupid is pointing to a rose. An expansive landscape including an aerial view, turning into an amply painted gold ornament featuring vegetal tendrils with purple flowers constitutes the scene’s background.

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The fan is made of paper, with an ivory handle and ribbing. On the paper, there are scenes drawn using a visual technique, painted with gouache. The main scene on the fan shows a couple embracing on a bridge in an English garden. At the couple’s feet, a cupid is pointing to a rose. An expansive landscape including an aerial view, turning into an amply painted gold ornament featuring vegetal tendrils with purple flowers constitutes the scene’s background. The edge of the fan is also decorated with a painted ornament featuring a golden vegetal tendril. On the reverse, a smaller scene depicts gesticulating characters engaged in conversation: a lady in a 19th-century court dress, a man in 19th-century attire and a woman holding a basket in a country outfit. In the background, there is a landscape with a windmill. To the sides, golden motifs composed of a single stylized flower with a vegetal tendril have been painted. At the top, a strip of ornamentation composed of a wavy vegetal tendril has been placed.
The ribbing and fan holder are made of bovine bone , carved in an openwork fashion to form an ornament composed of laurel branches, while the ribs at the extremities (casing) - are made of gilded metal with an ornament of an acanthus tendril, an astragal, plaiting and flowers.

Elaborated by Katarzyna Sosenko (Collection of the Sosenko Family Foundation), Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Anthropology of fragrance

The six tapestries entitled The Lady and the Unicorn [La Dame à la licorne] were woven with silk and wool around 1500. The theme of these late gothic allegorical depictions, stored at the National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, is human senses. The sense of smell is symbolized here by flowers: sniffed by a monkey, woven in a wreath by a lady and filling the basket, which the maid is holding. The flowers are supposed to remind the viewer of their mortality. Flower petals wither and fall, their fragrance is short-lived.

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The six tapestries entitled The Lady and the Unicorn [La Dame à la licorne] were woven with silk and wool around 1500. The theme of these late gothic allegorical depictions, stored at the National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, is human senses. The sense of smell is symbolized here by flowers: sniffed by a monkey, woven in a wreath by a lady and filling the basket, which the maid is holding. The flowers are supposed to remind the viewer of their mortality. Flower petals wither and fall, their fragrance is short-lived. What is more, the representation of fragrance enhances the status of nature and does not demand human invention.

The Lady and the Unicorn also called the Tapestry Cycle is the title of a series of six Flemish tapestries depicting the senses, Wikimedia, public domain

Unlike the representation of the sense of sight, whose attribute is a mirror, or the sense of hearing, where the lady is playing the portative.[1] The presence of the monkey depicting the sense of smell on the tapestry — European iconography does not count the monkey among creatures elevated by God — draws our attention to how this sense belongs to the category of lower senses.

The six tapestries from the National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris confirm the hierarchy present in the Western culture, in which the senses of sight and hearing are higher senses (intellectual, abstract), whereas the senses of smell, touch and taste are classified as the lower (animal) senses. In the hierarchy of senses, ancient philosophers — to name but a few, like Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia — placed smell right behind sight and hearing. In their opinion, these senses provide information about the world with greater speed and directly refer to the heart of the matter.[2] Plato, in Timaeus, directly says that sight is the “cause of the greatest benefit”, because it allows one to see stars, the sun and sky, to watch day and night, to create the concept of time and, consequently, to examine the nature of the universe. It was through sight that philosophy was born, “and the greater good mortal kin neither received nor will receive as a gift from the gods”. The same applies to hearing, which “is given to us because of harmony”, counteracting the states of soul deprived of measure and grace.[3] The relevance of this hierarchy is beyond any doubt, especially if we consider the statement of visual culture researchers legitimate, according to which modern life takes place on screens.[4] At the same time, it is difficult to tell unambiguously whether the domination of sight and hearing over other senses is a product of culture in which intellectual cognition literally “gains the upper hand” over sensory cognition or whether it is the natural disposition of man.

The sense of smell: a man lying in bed smells flowers as another lights some incense, above, a priest stands before a burning sacrifice of a lamb. Engraving after G. Collaert, Wikimedia, public domain

As the contemporary olfactologist Paolo Pelosi states, it is with the use of sight that we receive the most precise information about the external world:
“We create visual maps that allow us to find the way, recognize people and places, and make decisions. Our emotions are largely stimulated by visual and auditory sensations; our memories are visual, just like dreams. When we describe a place, a house, a street, a scene, we use pictures because they contain the greatest amount of information”.[5]
A human being does not need the sense of smell to survive and reproduce. Its loss (anosmia) does not bring such dramatic consequences in everyday functioning as loss of sight. It is different in the case of animals: “from the simplest organisms to mammals, from insects to fish, life of most species depends on the efficiency of the olfactory system”[6]. It is related to the brain structure, which in animals is more focused on the processing of smell sensations.
Olfactology is a relatively new branch of science. It was at the beginning of the 20th century when, together with the discoveries in organic chemistry, chemists turned their attention to molecules that we perceive as fragrances. It was the research in olfactology which showed that a human being processes smell stimuli differently than other sensory impressions.
“Vision, hearing, touch, taste and kinaesthetics are processed at the apex of the brainstem in the thalamus, where sensory information is integrated and then transmitted to the anterior cortex. Conscious thoughts appear in the reciprocal circulation between the cortex, where the sensory data is stored, and the thalamus. Smell takes a different path.”[7].
The sense of smell is directly connected with emotions and memory, which the olfactory cortex, overlapping with the limbic system, is responsible for. Inside the limbic system, the amygdala instinctively instigates, among others, the fear reaction, while the hippocampus integrates short-term memories. From these centres, information is passed to the thalamus and the anterior cortex (responsible for conscious thoughts); only then does it “connect with emotions and memories, and later with cognition”. The visual memory is not usually accompanied by an explosion of emotions. It is different with smell memory.
“Our smell associations are generally highly individualised. If we do not have strong shared collective memories related to a fragrance, our associations can be completely individual. Therefore, a human’s memory often works in contradiction to communication.”[8]
When speaking of fragrances, and thus communicating our feeling of a fragrance to someone, we use the metaphorical phrase “it smells like...”. Therefore, in the olfactory reality, we must use descriptions and memories, because fragrances — at least in European languages — do not have their names (as opposed to colours).[9]
In the Polish language, the very word “smell” constitutes a problem, appearing neutral but unfortunately every time demanding specification (e.g. “pleasant smell”) and having its negative equivalent, which is the word “stench”. In the modern Polish language, the word odór is rarely used. Borrowed from Latin (odor), it has been deprived of its lexical ambiguity and today it means “unpleasant odours”. For example, in the English language the word odour is used (in the United States — odor), which means both “smell” and “stench”, but also a bit more: body odour is “the smell of sweat (of a human body)”, whereas the odour of sanctity is the “aura of holiness”.
Smell was — and probably still is — marginalised in research because of the emotional potential, the tendency to cross borders, as well as its deep subjectivity. According to Alfred Gell, the olfactory world remains so subjective and unstable because fragrance creates a “secret language” that functions between impression and symbol.[10] What is more, modern societies demand distance from emotions; social structures and divisions are constructed as objective and rational (not emotional), while the boundaries that each of us sets out demand respect. Smell is not conducive to this type of categorization, mainly because it operates on a semi-conscious or even subconscious level.

 

The making of lily perfume, fragment from the decoration of a tomb, Wikimedia, public domain

Perfumes are the answer to these fears. It was already in ancient Egypt that fragrant substances were used to mask unpleasant odours or act as gifts for the gods. The very word “perfume” comes from the expression per fumum and directly refers to the activity of incensing, burning or the vaporisation of incense (related to vapours, that is — according to the old Polish language — an attack of depression or hysteria). In many cultures, it was believed that perfumes have healing properties which are able to separate healthy from diseased people (the stench of decomposing dead bodies). Perfumes also allow the creation of an ideal olfactory image of society. Today, stereotypical residents of the United States can be recognized by a fragrance that gives the impression of freshness. It is the smell of the body immediately after stepping out from the shower. The situation is different in Japan, where perfumes are not accepted with the exception of brothels.
Every year, our fragrance space is increased by 200 perfumes, created on the basis of 50 to 250 ingredients. The use of perfume has not changed significantly since the renaissance period in Italy, when it was flourishing. According to Avery Gilbert, this practice involves improving specific cognitive skills, to be precise: learning about new thought categories and matching fragrances to them. “To become a fragrance designer, you do not have to be able to smell like them; it is enough to think like one of them”.[11] A special example of such thinking is Christine Nagel, the first female perfume creator in the luxurious Paris-based Hermès fashion house, founded in 1857. Christine Nagel, when designing perfumes, combines touch with fragrance impressions. In an interview for “L’Officiel Hommes” she says:
“When I touched Doblis, a velvet-like calfskin, a story appeared in my head. I got goose bumps! And then I heard someone talking about fleur, "flower", i.e. the smooth side of the skin (i.e. the opposite of goose bumps). This word echoed in my thoughts: flower, skin... Marry a rose to skin.”[12]
In this case, the creation of a new fragrance connects or marries impressions perceived by various senses following the principle of free combination of associations. It is no different in the case of perfume bottles. The Smell of Luxury collection, presenting antique bottles (as well as other nursing devices) from the collections of the Sosenki Family indicates the multi-sensory aspect of the olfactory experience. When speaking of luxury, we do not mean only an expensive object that facilitates or enhances life.

Krzysztof Lubieniecki, The Sense of Smell, Wikimedia, public domain

The word “luxury” refers to light (from Latin lux), which makes things visible. And going further: it is because of the bottle that volatile perfumes become visible and obtain their objective representation. There is also another meaning of the word “luxury” (from Latin luxus), referring to what is displaced, shifted, dislocated. In this sense, the experience of the fragrance of luxury would be a spatial experience. Therefore, it is not surprising that Oliver Polge, Chanel’s main perfumer, when describing new toilet waters, refers to the experience of specific spaces:
“When I am smelling Deauville, Biarritz or Venice [meaning toilet waters created by him], I travel in my imagination. Not necessarily to these specific places. Deauville is juicy and woody, the city lies by the sea and is surrounded by greenery, so you can smell bitter, herbal notes in the composition. While Biarritz tells a story about the power of the sea. There is orange, grapefruit, but also lilies of the valley, which, in this juxtaposition, give a specific, ozone accent like the air after a storm. The scent of Biarritz brings to mind freshness. Venice is very ambiguous and has warmth to it. This scent has an urban character. I added irises and a delightful cedar extract to it. Associating the fragrance with a specific place is good exercise for the brain. What about emotions? I hope that the new toilet waters will evoke them; they do not have to tell about them”.[13]
An olfactory experience, arranged in such a way, engages all the senses. In this sense, the fragrance does not follow the hierarchies set by philosophers, and by triggering our emotions and memories can turn out to be a threat for a rationally-minded society. Smelling means touching the skin, seeing the past, hearing the sounds of the city, learning the taste of sweat. In other words, it is to cross boundaries.

 

Maciej Topolski – translator, essayist, poet. PhD student at the Faculty of Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University. Former editor of niedoczytania.pl (2009–2011). He prepared a selection of poems by Adam Wiedemann Domy schadzek [Houses of trysts] (Poznań 2012). He published a volume of poems at the end they are going (na koniec idą) (Łódź 2017), for which he was nominated for the Gdynia Literary Award. He lives in Kraków.


[1] C. Korsmeyer, Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 1999, p. 154.
[2] See also Han Baltussen, Ancient philosophers on the sense of smell [in:] Smell and the Ancient Senses, ed Mark Bradley, Routledge, London-New York 2015, p. 30.
[3] Plato, Timaeus, transl. Władysław Witwicki, Kęty 2002, pp. 45-46.
[4] Cf. Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, London-New York 1999. A special example confirming this domination was an April Fool’s joke by Google which announced the introduction of the Google Nose platform in 2008. Its fragrance base was to contain over 15 million scent data (nosobits), from camomile through a bonfire to the Egyptian tomb. This application was to help photons to combine with infrasounds and encourage molecules to emulate the small sensation. Then, it would have been enough to get close to the screen to sense the smell searched for in the browser.
[5] Paolo Pelosi, On the scent. A journey through the science of smell, Oxford University of Press, New York 2016, p. 4.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Laura Marks, The logic of the fragrance, transl. Maciej Topolski, „Opcje 1.1” 29–30/2017, access at: http://opcje.net.pl/laura-marks-logika-zapachu/ (date of access: 4.06.2018).
[8] Ibid.
[9] More about fragrance memory: Donald A. Wilson, Richard J. Stevenson, Odor Memory, [in:] ibid., Learning to Smell: Olfactory Perception from Neurobiology to Behavior, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2006, pp. 188-242.
[10] Alfred Gell, Magic, Perfume, Dream ...[in:] The Smell Culture Reader, ed. Jim Drobnick, Berg Publishers, Oxford 2006, p. 401.
[11] Avery Gilbert, What the Nose Knows: The Science of Smell in Everyday Life, Crown Publishers, New York 2008, p. 19.
[12] Lionel Paillès, Surface of the skin, “L’Officiel Hommes Polska” 1/2018, p. 113.
[13] With Oliver Polg, Chanel's nose,interviewed by Joanna Lorynowicz, “Vogue Polska” 4/2018, p. 89.

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A school for female schemers

The 18th century, called the century of women, was the age of sophisticated social games. What item was better suited to flirting than an amusing, coquettish fan? Thus, a secret “language of fans” was created, one to be mastered by every young woman with ballroom ambitions.

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The 18th century, called the century of women, was the age of sophisticated social games. What item was better suited to flirting than an amusing, coquettish fan? Thus, a secret “language of fans” was created, one to be mastered by every young woman with ballroom ambitions.
In 1711, the English writer Joseph Addison published a satire about the Fan Academy in the journal The Spectator, in which he openly said that a woman without a fan is like a man without a skewer. In the ballrooms, the „whispers of fans, the rustle of fans and disputes of fans” were to be heard everywhere. Often it was so complicated that well-born ladies were offered help in mastering this difficult art.
Therefore, in 1774 the Queen of Sweden, Luiza Mirck, established the Order of the Fan, in which the most eminent ladies were to learn and guard the secrets of this unusual female weapon that would enable them to flirt with lovers and imperceptibly seduce other men in front of their spouses. The item itself was excellent for this type of social game. The secret lay in the method of movement. The fan revealed the social status of the person who used it, and arranging it in a particular manner served to express intentions and feelings. Love confessions or details of meeting places were written on it, thereby acting as an intermediary between lovers.
The French writer and observer of ballroom lifestyle Madame de Staël (1766–1817) claimed that by wielding and playing with the fan, the sophistication of ladies is appreciated and if beautiful and chic women were not able to hold it gracefully and elegantly, they let themselves in for tremendous ridicule.
At the end of the 18th century, a new type of fan appeared – a “conversational” one. Popular especially in Italy, France, England and Spain, it was used until the 20th century. By revealing the appropriate sequence of numbers hidden in the landscape, dialogues were created. Some conversational fans contained symbolic pictures that formed well-thought-out allusions. In 1795 in Paris, the telegraph fan started to be used, concealing characters which were then orchestrated into words.

In Spain, especially in Andalusia, at the turn of the 18th century, a universal “fan language” was also created. In the Spanish variant, the abanico movement (from the Spanish word for “fan”) transformed into a complicated language, full of passion and allusions, in which lovers could express their anger, promises and longing. It was based on the correct arrangement of the fan in four directions, with five different variants. One alphabetic character was assigned to the abanico movement.
In Poland, the first mentions of the language of fans appeared in 1823 in Kurier dla Płci Pięknej [The Courier for the Fair Sex], where it was written that the only possibility for a woman to acquaint herself with an admirer without compromising her reputation was to use the „fan language”. In turn, in a passage from “Sir Thaddeus” we read that Telimena...
„[...] in her hands she twirled a fan for mere pastime,
for it was not hot; the gilded fan
as it waved spread around it a torrential rain of sparks.”
With the advent of World War I, the role of women and the prevailing customs changed. Women preferred to fight for their rights, rather than „to devise schemes hidden behind feather constructions”.
... the lady unexpectedly appeared on the balcony in the great ballroom and, fanning her face steadily, she said: „I will come soon ...” Suddenly, misled by a premonition, she touched a tortoiseshell gem with her left hand ... We are being watched... Unable to withstand the uncertainty, she closed her fan, presenting it so that the lover enjoying himself in the room noticed ... she asked uncertainly: Do you love me? Without receiving a reply, she closed and opened the fan nervously, conveying to the wooer: You are cruel! Not having achieved the desired effect, she changed her tactic ... with very slow fan movements she showed: You are indifferent to me. The man still did not answer her efforts, so she made the last desperate attempt ... she began to open the fan with her left hand, expecting that he would understand the meaning of the gesture: he would come and talk to her ... she had waited for so long... However, after a while, when her chosen one had not moved, had not even favoured her with a glance, she ostentatiously threw her fan behind her, shouting inwardly: I hate you! She went out, escorted by the compassionate glances of women and surprised ones of men, leaning on the shoulder of her unsuspecting husband...

Elaborated by: Kinga Śliwa (Editorial Team of Malopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

References:
Sławomir Kosieliński, Spojrzenie zza wachlarza, „Wiedza i Życie”, vol. 1 (1997);
Stanisław Gieżyński, Wachlarz — kobiece berło (2010): www.weranda.pl.

See the 18th-century women’s fan in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.
Read about the history of the fan.

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A story told in a whisper of fans...

How many exotic lands should we visit to follow their trail throughout centuries of history? How much of human history is hidden inside this apparently completely innocuous and frivolous object?

 

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How many exotic lands should we visit to follow their trail throughout centuries of history? How much of human history is hidden inside this apparently completely innocuous and frivolous object?
The earliest fans date back to the days of the ancient Egypt, where they were initially reserved for pharaohs and priests. Fans played a significant role in the ceremonies of the court; they were a sign of power to be carried behind the pharaoh in processions. To have a fan held for you indicated a high position in the state hierarchy. Large fans of leaves or feathers, mounted on long handles, sometimes bent at a right angle at the base of the plume were used. Fans also accompanied the deceased in their post-mortem journey. Two handles of fans found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, now located in the museum in Cairo, made from ivory and gold (with visible depictions of scarabs) indicate an accomplished artistic level that the Egyptians achieved in the creation of such items.
In Greece, fans borrowed from the Egyptians were originally made from leaves mounted on a long handle. They were used by both men and women, but due to their large size, were carried by slaves. Their form began to change in the 4th century BC when their size was reduced and they became more compact so that they could be carried alone. Other materials began to be used in their production: thin boards, fabrics and leather stretched on a frame. In the Hellenist period, feather fans were also made and magical properties were often attributed to them. The most common form was the semicircular fan, which was reflected in the decoration of Greek ceramics.
The Romans invented their own type of a fan called musicarum (Latin musicas – a fly) which was used to flick insects away. Around the 4th century BC, small fans resembling simple flags appeared.
While following the trail of the fan, we cannot forget about imperial China and the Land of the Rising Sun where this object was created in an extremely beautiful form and played an important role in a daily life of the court and its inhabitants.
One of the Chinese legends concerning the creation of a fan refers to the beautiful daughter of the mandarin Kan-Si, who, during the Torch Holiday, started to fan herself with a mask very quickly, hoping to cool her face hidden behind the mask. She was followed by the other 10,000 ladies who were also tired of the heat. Thanks to this, their faces remained in hiding and there was pleasant coolness all around...
At the imperial court and in the hierarchy of state officials, stringent rules on the use of fans were applied. However, if a person abode by these rules, the fan became a useful tool to evade etiquette. One could avoid endless ceremonial bows by hiding their faces behind a fan. Another practical use of a fan, probably pretty amazing to the youth, was using it to discipline students at schools. There were also “war fans“ made of metal, designed for soldiers as well as large decorative ceremonial and presentable fans used, for example, during parades or processions.
Fans were made of paper, silk, feathers, wood, palm leaves, and ivory, as well as white nephrite which was especially valued in China. The handles of precious specimens were created from silver, gold or mother-of-pearl. Colours were often monochromatic, and the decorations were derived from the art of calligraphy. In China, India, and Mesopotamia fan feathers were impregnated with fragrant oils so that a pleasant scent emanated from them every time they moved. A significant development in the field of this artistic craftsmanship occurred after the form of a folding fan was adopted from Japan.
In Japan, this form was invented around the 7th century. It was accompanied by a legend which told about a married couple into whose flat a bat flew at night. An observation of the animal’s wings made when it was taken out of the house contributed to the invention of the folding fan. The oldest forms of this were named Komori (bat in Japanese). Fans arrived to Japan from Korea. The material they were made from indicated the social and property status of their owners. Different fan forms were associated with different purposes. Materials similar to those used in China were used, but fan decorations were further developed by introducing ink drawings and woodcut reproductions, as well as the inscribing of short poems. Fans were also covered with scenes from court life, and picturesque landscapes or calligraphy. It was also possible to purchase an undecorated fan and to decorate it on one’s own.
In China and Japan, the most popular fan was the Brise folding fan. Their frames were uniquely charming, due to their floral, landscape, and architectural, as well as anthropomorphic ornamentation, which was intricately carved. Another fan form, which was developed by Japanese culture, was the pleated fan. The demand for fans was huge, so small factories, often with a high degree of specialisation, were established. The technology of production changed and improved; fan painting schools were opened, and various decoration techniques were introduced (including incrustation and openwork patterns). Considered to be everyday objects, they were regarded as an inseparable attribute of, for example, a samurai costume. They also played an important role in Japanese theatre.
The folding fan didn’t reach Europe until as late as the 17th century; earlier, around the 15th century, they appeared in the East. Fans spread across European courts thanks to Portuguese sailors. Before that, European women had used small flags or fans of bird feathers. Fan fashion reached all social classes, so production facilities began to be established. The best-known production centres were located in Italy. In Milan, Genoa and Siena, fans were made of bird feathers (fans made of long-tail parrot feathers were a novelty). Their handles were made from precious materials such as ivory, gold, and silver, as well as precious stones. In order to secure the fan to a dress, a chain or a ribbon was attached to it. Flag-fans used by wealthy women were manufactured in Venice. Those decorated with Venetian lace and made of white vellum were intended for young betrothed girls. In Naples and Bologna, there were popular screen fans with geometric decorations.
One of the most beautiful collections of fans was owned by Elizabeth I, the Queen of England. She used to say that this was the only object that could be given to her by her subjects. However, it was the 18th century which became known as the golden age of fans.
This practical, fetching and entertaining item quickly became an irreplaceable and ever-present accessory of every elegant lady. French Rococo introduced a fashion for meticulously crafted fans; ivory became very popular. Themes were derived from Italian comedies; pastoral, love, and hunting scenes, as well as depictions of landscapes and portraits. Eighteenth-century fans were true works of art. Made of paper, thin leather, tortoiseshell, ivory, and mother of pearl; they were carved and lacquer painted – they were an elegant complement to the wardrobe of that time. The most common decorations were landscape, genre, and mythological scenes, and sometimes erotic scenes. The Marquise de Pompadour ordered her fans from the most famous painters of the era. In social life, a domino-type fan was useful, with cut-out holes through which a lady could observe the surroundings, while remaining unseen. Lenses could also be fitted in a fan, which served as glasses in a very elegant setting; such fans were used by Marie Antoinette.
A fan could enable one to escape difficult situations. During an audience with Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, an embarrassing incident occurred. The queen, known for her passion for fashion, noticed an extremely charming bracelet on the hand of one of the ladies, the German Baroness d’Oberkirch. So she asked the Baroness to show her the trinket. However, according to the Versailles etiquette, the Queen could not be given an object in a public place with a bare hand not wearing a glove. Therefore, the Baroness took off the bracelet and put it on her spread fan. With this manner of handing the jewellery, etiquette was observed, and the queen was delighted.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, fans of the aide-mémoire type could be seen, reminding people of the words of popular songs, dances or game rules. During the French Revolution, prints on fans made comment on current political events.
In the 19th century, delicate lace fans were intended for young girls, whereas dignified ladies had a liking for elegant fans made from feathers, matching the colour of their dresses. Scenes depicting an elegant group during a game and a walk, known from paintings by Fragonard, Boucher, and Watteau, became a popular decoration. Interestingly, a famous Polish painter of horses, Wojciech Kossak, also decorated fans: A knight paying homage to the queen, Yankel’s polonaise and concert, A wedding in Kraków.
The 20th century saw a decline in the popularity of the fan; after World War I only old ladies who remembered the days of splendour of the fan and their own experiences could not be parted from this sophisticated object.
Today’s fans, enclosed in museum showcases, still enchant with their unique charm, and  visitors continue to fall into a reverie over the ephemeral beauty of bygone eras.

Sources:
Porozmawiajmy: o wachlarzach, cz. 1
Porozmawiajmy: o wachlarzach, cz. 2

Elaborated by Kinga Śliwa (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also: Woman’s fan

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