|"Marriage of Louis XV and Marie Leczinska" French fan (1760-70). Fan Museum in Paris.|
Last weekend was full of adventure as Stéphane and I discovered the "hidden face of Paris": a fan museum, Gustave Eiffel's 1912 wind tunnel, a private mansion in the 16th arrondissement, an old bathhouse in the 15th and the workshops of a bookbinder, lacquer artist and a painting restorer in Meudon. All of these exceptional experiences were part of Paris Face Cachée, 72 hours of unique moments in unusual places that are normally closed to the public.
The idea of this annual event is to be adventurous and sign up for an experience without knowing exactly where it's going to take place. Carefully reading the teasers, I was captivated by this one:
Power and Seduction at your Fingertips - Present throughout history, these little gems are a symbol of elegance, charm and intrigue. True works of art, they are made of ivory, pearl, wood, bone, silk, lace, feathers, satin, organza .... Not used on a daily basis anymore, they still have a prominent place in Haute Couture and theatre. From its creation to its use, let yourself be seduced by this little thing that's not lacking in sophistication.
Puzzled yet intrigued by the description, I completed the registration and was excited to learn that it was for the Musée de l'Éventail (Fan Museum) located in the 10th arrondissement.
Anne Hoguet, a fourth generation fan maker and restorer, welcomed us to the private museum located in her workshop. In the first room, she recounted the fascinating history of fans from the time that plaited palm leaf fans were used to ignite fires, chase flies and cool oneself to the introduction of folding Italian fans to the French Royal Court by Catherine de Medicis. During the reign of King Louis XIV, the fan makers' guild was created in France. Fan makers were those who could fold and assemble the leaves, while the marquetry artists made the frames in l'Oise, 50 kilometers North of Paris. During the height of their popularity at Versailles, the price of the most exquisitely crafted fans was the equivalent of what a car costs today.
|Around King Louis XIV. Spanish fan (1840-50). Fan Museum in Paris.|
Some of the most lavish fans date from the second half of the nineteenth century when the artists who painted the fans were often fashionable painters. While painting the leaves of a fan, artists had to arrange the composition so that the heads of the figurines weren't placed within the folds of the fan. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, many of the leading Impressionists, including Degas, Gauguin and Renoir, were intrigued by the challenge of painting on fan leaves. The most prolific was Camille Pissaro, who painted approximately 90 fans between 1878 and 1895.
At the beginning of the 20th century, fans made from ostrich feathers as well as those with beautifully painted leaves inspired by the "Art Nouveau" and "Art Déco" styles were fashionable. After the First World War, women's values and lifestyles changed radically and fans were no longer a necessity for the well-dressed woman. Thus, the reign of the fan came to an end. Anne Hoguet, however, hopes that one day women will replace their cell phones with hand fans. In the meantime, she's the very last producer specialized in high quality hand-made fans.
Created in 1993, the Musée de l'Éventail (Fan Museum) features the art of fan making, the tools of the trade and an exhibition room located in the Lepault & Deberghe showroom from 1893. Preserved in its original state, the former showroom is furnished in Henry II style and classified as an historical monument. With more than 2,000 pieces dating from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, the display changes periodically.
Musée de l'Éventail (Fan Museum)
2 blvd de Strasbourg, 75010 Paris
Hours: Monday to Wednesday 2 - 6 pm. Closed in August.
Admission: 6.50 euros
Metro: Strasbourg St Denis
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|Musée de l'Éventail (Fan Museum)|