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French

Queen Adelaide's fan c. 1820

RCIN 25104

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According to Queen Victoria, this fan belonged to her aunt, Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), whose crowned cipher AR appears on both guards. The style and finish of the gold work on these guards is close to that produced in England at the time, particularly by firms such as Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, who undertook numerous commissions for the royal family. However, the fan leaf, with appliqué decoration, is of a type that was already produced in Paris before the Revolution, with the more spectacular examples dating from the 1830s. Alphonse Giroux, of Alphonse Giroux et Cie, who was a painter as well as a purveyor or luxury goods (from furniture to photographs), may have supplied the richly decorated leaf of this fan before it was exported to England for mounting.  The tiny painted ivory heads - a feature of Cantonese fans - were produced in China for export to Western (particularly French) fan-makers. However, the features painted onto the ivory here are Western, not Oriental.

Queen Adelaide, born Princess of Saxe-Meiningen, had married George III’s third son, William, Duke of Clarence, in 1818. On the death of George IV in June 1830, the Duke of Clarence succeeded to the throne as William IV. There were no surviving children of the marriage and, on the King’s death in June 1837, his niece, Victoria, succeeded. Both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were fond of the Dowager Queen. On Queen Adelaide’s death in December 1849, many of her jewels and personal possessions - probably including this fan - passed to Queen Victoria.

Text adapted from Unfolding Pictures: Fans in the Royal Collection 2005 and the catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014.