Congratulations to Pierre-Henri Biger

Posted in resources by Editor on January 12, 2016


Eighteenth-century fan, after Carlo Maratta, showing Janus at the Door of the New Year
(C&PHB Collection)

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Along with so many fabulous readers, Enfilade has become what it is thanks to fabulous contributors. There are many. But today, I’m glad to single out Pierre-Henri Biger, who defended his PhD thesis in October (at, he tells me, the spry age of 64). Congratulations Pierre-Henri, and we look forward to seeing what comes next! CH

Pierre-Henri Biger, “Sens et sujets de l’éventail européen de Louis XIV à Louis-Philippe,” Université Rennes 2.

Abstract : Nowadays fans are often kitsch and for tourists. Associated with fashion, these fragile feminine objects have been misjudged and remain unknown. Built for this thesis from public and private collections and public sales, an eclectic database is capable, thanks to a statistical approach, to query and study 2350 items. This study deals mainly with the topics on fan leaves during a very long eighteenth century. Twenty monographs are focusing on objects of the various determined categories. Statistics and monographs, informed by the observation of contemporary art and society, enter into dialogue. The fan appears as a reflection of art through myths, sacred and ancient history, and morality painting. But it is also a witness or an actor in the social, political, and theatrical life, and even used for promoting economic projects or for caricature. Almost all fans carry a meaning, even those ‘without history’, adorned with pastoral scenes, seemingly only mirrors of fashion or occasions of entertainment. This meaning has long been obscured because of the social transformations of the nineteenth century, perhaps for the reason that fans were originally an area of freedom and power of women – even going to libertinism? – For this objet d’art, both public and private, speaks, through the subjects that adorn it, a real speech (largely related to marriage but to love as well). Woman was both recipient and speaker. Studying these objects and learning to decipher their messages would improve their understanding and benefit various disciplines.

More information, including how to download a copy is available here