Japanese fans, bibelots and robes would only come alive in private encounters. They were props for dressing up, role-playing, the sensuous reimagining of self.

-Edmund de Waal, The Hare With Amber Eyes

There were so many Impressionist paintings in The Hare With Amber Eyes that I didn’t have space to mention in my last post, in particular La Japonaise, a portrait of Claude Monet’s first wife Camille dressed in an elaborate kimono-esque style robe decorated with a scary samurai drawing his sword and elaborate gold embroidery. But the key accessory (or should we say accessories in this case) is the quintessential icon of both Japan and the 19th century female world – the fan. Reading my earlier posts on Japonisme and Impressionism herehere and here yields many more fans and Japanese style robes and is a must if this post intrigues you, as some of the very best examples can be found there.

La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume)

Painted only a few years before, Eduoard Manet’s Portrait of Nina Callias also features a fan wall and a boldly coquettish subject.

Woman With Fans, Portrait of Nina de Callias

Olga Boznanska’s subject seems introspective, wearing a simple white robe and holding a single fan.


Degas gives a fan to one of his dancers.

Dancer with a Fan

Renoir’s girl is sweet and innocent, not seductive or flirty…

A Girl with a Fan

…nor is Pissarro’s.

Jeanne Holding a Fan

Fans can be the subject themselves as in this painting Still Life with Chinese Vase and Fan. Ironically the vase is not Chinese at all, but instead looks to me to be a piece of Japanese Seto porcelain. The plate next to it is clearly Imari.

Still Life with Chinese Vase and Fan

And another still life with a European pitcher.

Still Life with Oriental Fan

A modern-day version of a fan room, I am loving this pretty bedroom. It would be easy to do something like this with shrine sale finds.

All of which brings me around full circle, thinking about the post I wrote at New Years – We Are the New Victorians – and one with a similar theme by Courtney at Style Court, featuring an exhibition I wish I could go see! The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde,1860–1900 runs from February 18, 2012 – June 17, 2012 at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco and “is the first major exhibition to explore the unconventional creativity of the British Aesthetic Movement, tracing the evolution of this movement from a small circle of progressive artists and poets, through the achievements of innovative painters and architects, to its broad impact on fashion and the middle-class home. The superb artworks on view encompass the manifold forms of Victorian material culture: the traditional high art of painting, fashionable trends in architecture and interior decoration, handmade and manufactured furnishings for the “artistic” home, art photography and the new modes of dress.”

Once again all my San Francisco friends, please go enjoy for me!

Image Credits: 1. via Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2. via Musée D’Orsay, 3. via Wikimedia, 4. via WikiPaintings, 5. via WikiPaintings, 6. via Artnet, 7. via Pinterest, 8. via Little Emma English Home