The Devoted to Darcy Fanclub Fan
Object name: The Devoted to Darcy Forever Fanclub Fan
Object number: CHWJA:JAH432
Description: A modern, handmade paper fan, by the Dutch Artist Aafke Brouwer. A single cream paper leaf is mounted on black sticks. It is hand painted, featuring a depiction of Mr Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice, within a laurel wreath, two flying horses above, and two smaller vignettes with symbols of love, being a flaming torch with red hearts, and two doves perched together on a branch. The lower leaf is noted “The devoted to Darcy Forever Fan Club Fan”. The verso is plain. Guard length 8.5 inches or 21.5cm
Context: This contemporary and original paper fan was painted by the Dutch artist Aafke Brouwer in 1990 for her dear friend Judith Elliott of Windermere, UK. Both were members of the Fan Circle International and Judith had several favourite subjects, one being Jane Austen and her works. The attribution “The Devoted to Darcy Forever Fan Club” was a tongue in cheek reference by Aafke to Judith’s interest and shows how The Fan as a medium for expression can be tailored perfectly as a special gift for a friend. Note the flying horses: Aafke’s noticeable interest related to painting horses and other animals, and Pegasus often featured in her work. The flaming torch and pair of white doves are symbolic of Love.
The early 19th century saw a change in the shape and size of fans. Previously, when dresses were grand and extravagant, fans were relatively large and many featured religious and mythological subjects. These subjects were fashionable, and beautiful, detailed paintings of gods and wonderous creatures were to be seen. In the aftermath of the French Revolution when the wealthy were rather fearful for their safety, outwards signs of extravagance were replaced by simple dress, such as muslin embroidered high-waisted gowns with tiny but beautiful details. To complement this narrower silhouette, fans substantially reduced in size, and details, such as painted flowers, were smaller in scale. Materials used were ivory, bone, horn, even painted card, appearing simple but actually featuring delicate workmanship that would have been expensive in the day. Brouwer’s fan is therefore of a smaller form than her usual work, to fit with the Darcy Period.
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