Felix Alexandre (b.1823) rose to fame during the 1850s to become fan-maker to Empress Eugenie, the Queen of the Netherlands and Queen Victoria – a fact proudly proclaimed in gold letters on the inside of his fan boxes. Not only did Alexandre paint fan leaves and produce designs for many of the elaborate montures (sticks and guards), he was also the first eventailliste to employ painters and designers who were part of the coterie of fashionable artists working in France at this time.
Carousels of figures, putti, flowers; montures of sumptuously carved ivory, engraved mother of pearl and lavish gilding: even the most cursory glance at an Alexandre fan will reveal an era of enormous affluence where emperors and royalty were the celebrities of the day.
This ambitious exhibition, a joint initiative of The Fan Museum and Galliera (Musee de la Mode et du costume de la Ville de Paris), brings together, for the first time, an array of exquisite Alexandre fans including loans from Royal Collections and some of Europe’s most prestigious collectors.
Drawing on extensive archival research, the exhibition offers unparalleled insights into the craft of a particularly enigmatic eventailliste, undoubtedly one of the major forces in 19th century French fan design and production.