There are some professional art models who can, upon request, provide an array of props, costumes, and accessories to adorn their pose. I am not one of them. Yes, I confess. I’m not the greatest prop/costume model. Don’t get me wrong, I have some stuff. Nice scarves, a ballet costume, a couple of hats. I had a blue kimono that has mysteriously gone missing. I am a full time artist’s model who shows up to work with little more than my face and body. Most of the time those two things are more than sufficient. But it’s the models who also work as dancers, actors, or performers of some kind, who have sizable collections of accessories, which include such things as feather boas, turbans, bolero jackets, canes, capes, tiaras, and the classic favorite, the fan.
I don’t have a fan. My mother once remarked to me, “Why don’t you have a fan? You should have a fan for posing”. Can you believe it? My own mother! Pointing out my modeling shortcomings! Thanks Mom
The late Aviva Stone was a fabulous model when it came to costuming poses. She worked with hats, jewelry, and, of course, fans. She worked them well too. Probably better than anyone.
There are two kinds of hand-held fans, the folding kind and the screen kind. I believe the folding fan originated in Japan, while the screen came out of China. Both traditionally have bamboo frames and often have decorative designs printed on them. Fans add an interesting shape and focal point to a painting, and are most commonly used as a prop for female, rather than male, sitters.
Mary Cassatt’s Lady With a Fan:
William Merritt Chase’s The Blue Kimono. Fans and kimonos naturally go well together:
James Jacques Tissot was a 19th century French painter. This piece is called simply, The Fan, from 1875. Interesting shape created by the pose, with the fan held prominently up and conveying a playful feel:
This one is gorgeous and striking, from the unique look of the model to the furious red of the kimono. I think it’s my favorite of the group. By Jules Joseph Lefebvre, appropriately titled, The Language of the Fan:
From Diego Velasquez, the great master of Spanish baroque, this is Lady With a Fan:
Englishman Albert Joseph Moore presented a fan in a more Greco-Roman style in this work, The Gilded Fan:
This next painting makes no sense, in my opinion. What is supposed to be the focal point here? With that one exposed breast, your eye goes right to it, which is fine, but then the fan seems frivolous. I’m no artist, but I would have either eliminated the fan or covered up that breast. Jean Beauduin’s A Lady Holding a Fan. An alternate title could have been “Half-exposed Lady Holding a Fan”, haha. I would also lose the plant:
Pedro Antonio wants us to know that these are Two Elegant Ladies Holding Fans. They’re “elegant”, ok? Don’t forget that! I think they look like two party girl troublemakers, like the Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan of 1828. These chicks are up to no good, I can tell
My only comment about this next painting is this: that is one big-ass fan! From Roberto Fontano, A Young Girl Holding a Fan:
Even some 20th century artists got on the fan bandwagon. If I ever do pose with a fan, I’d like to present it this way. Sexy and alluring. Very cool! From Kees van Dongen, Woman With a Fan, 1920:
I found almost all of the images in this post on Art Renewal Center.