Owing to totally unforeseen circumstances the exhibition “Poetry in Motion” has been cancelled. It has, at very short notice, been replaced by an exhibit of some of The Fan Museum’s most spectacular fans. Light and airy, some gauze “couture” fans float, suspended in a central case, while some of the finest lace can be seen on magnificent “montures” carved by such artists as Henneguy whose work graced the fans of the Queen of the Netherlands at the end of the nineteenth century.
Seventeenth and eighteenth century fans are prominent in the first exhibition gallery. One of these, said to have belonged to the Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria’s mother, has a tiny watch in the “head”. A later fan from the renowned “éventailliste” Alexandre, belonged to Eugénie, Empress of the French, which was lent to an exhibition of fans sponsored by Queen Victoria in the City of London in 1872.
A wedding present from her aunt and uncle is the jewelled fan carried by Princess Stephanie of the Belgians in 1881 on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Rudolph of Hapsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The much loved Danish born Queen Alexandra is represented by a fine handscreen presented to her when still Princess of Wales on 20th June 1900 at the laying of the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
There are more mundane fans such as the exquisite marabou feather fans with its own box and another painted fan which is “good as new” by Billotey, still with the paper wrapped around alternate sticks to prevent the tortoiseshell from being “rubbed” thus conserving an intact “monture”.
This exquisite, eclectic Summer exhibition evoking languid evenings of another less stressed era, when women carried fans and gently cooled themselves, when you could “tell a duchess from a countess by the way she carried her fan” is not to be missed.