Magnificent, rare and exceptional fans from one of the world’s greatest collections are going under the hammer in France.
On 3 and 4 July, French auction house Rossini is presenting an exceptional sale of fans from the collection of Michel Maignan (1940-2019), heir to Duvelleroy, the famous house of fans, and founder and president of the Cercle de l'Éventail (Circle of Fan).
Probably one of the most beautiful fan collections in existence, it is also the work of a lifetime – the collection beginning with a passion that was handed down from Michel Maignan’s grandfather Jules-Charles Maignan, director of Duvelleroy in 1940. Founded in 1827 by Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy, this house of fans and leather goods, the symbol of the art of living and of French know-how, became the supplier of all royal courts. Relaunched a few years ago thanks to the support of Michel Maignan, who wished to safeguard the Duvelleroy heritage, it is now labelled as a living heritage company.
Michel Maignan, a scholarly collector, worked throughout his life to share his knowledge about fans, including their manufacture and their restoration. He was founder and president of Cercle de l'Éventail (Circle of Fan), an association known worldwide by collectors of fans and which worked with the Palais Galliera, Museum of the Fashion of the City of Paris.
Maignan was an expert in this field and regularly spoke to museums about exhibitions devoted to fans, not only as a specialist but also as a lender of works. His knowledge wasn’t limited to French fans but extended to those of all origins, which is reflected in this two-day sale: nearly 400 lots are being brought together, including models from around the world, and those from the 16th-century century to the present day. Let’s not waste any more time and dive straight in.
This rare fan flag (also called a wind vane) is a sheet of beige and, in the manner of 16th-century bindings, is embedded on each side with a small painting and bordered with a fringe of green and light brown silk. Its face represents the room of Venus furnished in Italian fashion of the early 16th century, and is a symbol of the impulses of carnal love. The goddess is lying naked on an antique bed and, near her, Cupid is playing with his bow, while a satyr at the foot of the bed has just seized the transparent linen that covers his nakedness.
On the reverse there is symbolic representation of the traps of love, where birds represent the high aspirations of the soul. From this angle, Cupid, seated, holds nets in his hand, where a multitude of birds will be caught. Cages surround the young god. At the top, a flight hunting scene fills a clearing.
This type of fan is only represented in paintings of the Venetian School of the 16th century, as in Veronese's Venus and Adonis at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Titian's Portrait of a Lady in White at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister's Dresden, and some engravings of the late sixteenth century.
The remarkable fan was exhibited to the public during the show Retrospective Fans at the Château de Maisons from November 2005 to January 2006.
From c. 1857, this Spéranza fan (by Edouard Moreau and Auguste Elongé) is a sheet of paper painted with gouache and placed on a gold background. It depicts a boat ride on a lake in Renaissance costume, the boat carrying on its flank the inscription of Spéranza, and on the reverse a vast landscape painted of a net fishing scene.
The ivory frame (Africana Loxodonta) is inlaid with mother-of-pearl palmettes and carved with plumes of women and love.
While the previous selection of lots are being sold in the first part of the sale on 3 July, the remainder are being sold in the second part, on 4 July.
Included in this second half is this fan by George Clairin, ‘She feeds the swans’. The sheet of paper is painted in gouache and displays a young woman standing at the edge of the water feeding swans in a wide country landscape. On the left, a dedication reads, “to Madame Mathey, remember her devoted friend". The fan is also signed and dated G. Clairin 1885.
From the middle Edo era, c. 1790, comes this Hi-Ogi court fan in hinoki wood, painted with gouache and interpreted according to the principles of the school of Tosa on a model of Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795).
It has long green, white and red trimmings on the guards and one rivet represents the face of a bird, and on the reverse a butterfly.
Another beautiful and culturally-rich piece from Japan is this lacquered wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl. It is in fact a sumo referee’s screen and comes from the end of Japan’s Edo period, c. 1850.
With Iramakie, Takamakie and Shibayama décor, and a face of peacocks in a landscape and flowers which symbolise summer, this brisé fan (a particular type of fan which splices open) in ivory comes from the Meiji era, c. 1880. It has a loop and tassel and there is damage to two sticks.
Another ‘brisé’ fan, this time of Mount Fuji, the golden engraved fan is made of blonde shell (Eretmochelys Imbricata). It features a loop and tassel and comes from the Meiji era, circa 1890.
It is decorated with gold engraving of a lord on horseback surrounded by his servants who gaze at the sea at the foot of Mount Fuji.
As a reminder, Rossini’s sale of fans from the collection of Michel Maignan is taking place in two parts on 3 and 4 July.