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A Feather Fan - Caryn DeCrisanti

 

Feather fans are evident in pictorial and written history of the Renaissance timeframe. Lady Dianotto’s website contains excerpts describing feather fans used in Europe. Accessories of Dress by Lester and Oerke describes typical upper class fans as having feathers “set in beautiful handles of carved ivory, gold, or silver, frequently richly jeweled. These costly handles were a very important item of permanent value.” Accessories of Dress also describes a fan given to Queen Elizabeth I in 1574: “A fan of white feathers set in a handle of gold garnished on one side with two very fair emeralds, and fully garnished with diamonds and rubies; the other side garnished with rubies and diamonds. . . .”

Queen Elizabeth was known to be fond of accessories and several contemporary portraits show a feather fan in her hands, particularly in the last quarter of the 16th century. The Valois Tapestries, depicting the last decades of France, contain at least one image of a lady holding an ornate fan body ringed by luxurious feathers. Italian portraits, however, begin depicting feather fans as early as 1540.



 
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