Folding Fan (France), 1869–80
Label: silk bobbin lace leaf with carved and gilded mother-of-pearl sticks. Gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane. 1920-19-35.
What is this?
Folding fan with a black bobbin-made Chantilly lace leaf decorated with a line of dancing putti carrying a floral garland. The sticks are carved and gilded mother-of-pearl, decorated with oval medallions of putti. On each guard stick is a a medallion with the initials FB..
Why is this important?
This beautiful and elaborate folding fan has a leaf of black silk bobbin-made lace of the type referred to as “Chantilly” lace, named for a center for silk lace production in France. Black lace became extremely popular for items of dress and fashion accessories in the 1840s. The vogue for black lace was fueled by the fashion tastes of Empress Eugénie, who supported the French lace industry. In this example, the figures of the finely drawn dancing putti on the leaf are shaded and modeled through different densities of the lace structure. The mother-of-pearl sticks also bear romantic motifs, with carved cupids complete with bows and arrows. This fan was custom-made for Fanny Bridgham, whose initials, “FB”, appear on the guard sticks on each end. In the year following her death, the fan was donated to the Cooper Hewitt by Mrs. John Innes Kane (Anne Schermerhorn Kane, 1957-1926) in memory of Mrs. Samuel W. Bridgham (Fanny Schermerhorn Bridgham, 1846-1919).