Every know and then I’m fortunate enough to acquire something extremely rare, and of undoubted museum quality. When this happens I do extensive and in-depth research to make certain that what I’m saying about the item is accurate. This silk fan leaf is one of those amazing acquisitions that makes the life of an antiques dealer terribly exciting. I loved doing the research into its history, and here’s what I discovered.
This silk fan leaf is all hand painted and is signed C. G. Bastien on the lower right of the leaf. Other than the two coats of arms, and part of them, and the full color cameo in the center, everything is hand painted in gold paint, with VERY fine strokes. All of the little paillettes (sequins) are very tiny and in the right light, they display in a gold color. They have been hand applied, and are spaced so that when the fabric is folded, they wouldn’t be on the creases. The painted designs and the paillettes form an extremely intricate pattern, one that only an expert would have created.
In the center in a cameo of a little boy, wearing a sash with a medal of state and rank. To the left is a coat of arms, which would have belonged to the father. To the right is a coat of arms that would have belonged to the mother. When I began doing the research on this I started with the one on the right side, that of the mother, because the double headed eagle would have been easier to identify. I discovered that this one belonged to the house of Francis I, Emperor of Austria, and a Habsburg.
From there I was able to identify that this was also an indication that the mother had to have been the daughter of Austrian Emperor Francis I, Empress Marie-Louise, a former Archduchess of Austria. Then I was able to quickly identify the father from the coat of arms on the left. It belonged to none other than Emperor Napoleon I, of France, and Marie Louise had been his second wife. With this, it was easy to then pinpoint the child as being his son, Napoleon II. What made the identification even easier was that in my search, I discovered a colored print of a child sitting in a baby coach that was drawn by two sheep. This was none other than Napoleon II, and it was a version of the cameo in the center of the fan. Bingo! As the child in the cameo was about two years of age, then it was also simple to come up with a date. Because the coats of arms were done by hand, they are only slightly different from the actual ones, but this can be credited to the artist taking artistic license to create this work of art. There is absolutely no doubt what the coats of arms are and who they represent.
About Napoleon II:
Napoleon II led a short and unhappy life. If you go online I’m sure you will be able to find out as much about his as I did, so I won’t repeat the in-depth information here. He was born on March 20, 1811, and died from tuberculosis on July 22, 1832. He never married. His full name was Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, and he bore the titles, Emperor Napoléon II Of France, King Of Rome, Prince Imperial, and Duke Of Reichstadt. His mother couldn’t have cared less about him, but he was adored by his father and his maternal grandfather.
A fan carrying both coats of arms would NOT have been in the possession of, or been used by anyone other than a close member of the family, and from the exceptionally fine details, I’m thinking that it was almost surely owned by his mother. Regardless of this, the leaf speaks for itself, and is not only a one of a kind piece, but is of museum quality!
Price available upon request