A spectacular old French Victorian fan, 8 1/2" long, with 18 M.O.P. sticks of white Australian ocean pearl oyster (Pinctada maxima), which unfold to a 170 degree span. The double chicken-skin leaf is hand-painted with lots of leafy gilding on both sides, everything displaying very finely done detail and with the colors still brilliant!
The front (recto) shows us a pastoral scene with putti working and frolicking, while the verso has a center panel of a would-be lover choosing from three bride portraits while Cupid prepares for action by making arrows.
The very unusual pearl sticks are pierced and carved, and engraved with gilded floral vines, the gorge of each stick consisting of 2 or 3 slender struts, and have silver pique (inlaid dot) roundels on the recto of their shoulders, which on the verso are painted. As can be seen silhouetted in the last edge-on photo, the guard sticks are unusual in not having a flat surface, but carved diagonal scalloping or fluting. The rivet has a white jewel paste at each end.
This very rare fan is in excellent condition, clean and bright with a minimum of wear to the paint and gilding, and has been stored folded and out of the light. No breaks in the pearl. The vellum leaf has a couple of very old repairs (over a split and a small tear) done with what appears to be the very transparent traditional material called "gossamer fabric". The skin extending on to the left rear guard has been partially damaged and reattached, and most of the gilt on that portion has worn off. The leaf is entire, with no missing sections or frayed edges; and only 8 of the 323 silver pique dots are missing.
Specialists in Mother of Pearl (M.O.P.) and other nacreous shell, both artifacts and raw materials.
Pearlescence and chatoyance predominate, with occasional amber, linens, china, and select "smalls".