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Maria Fyodorovna of Denmark (Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar), later Empress of Russia (1847-1928).
Queen Alexandra (1844-1925).
Queen Mary (1867-1953).
The fan was a treasured objet d'art and an essential accoutrement of stately courts, where lustre was garnered by its passing from hand to hand. A fan (lot 325) from the Russian Imperial collection presents the theatrical work of the Parisian artist Andre Charles Voillemot (d.1893), whose related frontispiece illustration for Theodore de Banville's Odes funambulesques, 1857, appeared around the time he was involved in the decoration of the Fontainebleau theatre of Emperor Napoleon III, for whom he was later to decorate the Imperial Pavilion of the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Considerable interest is added to this little masterpiece by the fact that Queen Mary recorded the history of its succession from Empress Maria Fyodorovna (d.1928) to Queen Alexandra (d.1925), and then via her own collection to that of H.R.H. Princess Margaret. Likewise a masterpiece of the Devonshire lace-workers' art gains additional interest from Queen Mary having recorded that it once crossed the Atlantic for display at the 1904 Great Exhibition held at St. Louis (see lot 326). Other services rendered by such fans are brilliantly recorded in the lace of one that remains in the Royal Collection. While commemorating Queen Alexandra's 1903 visit to Ireland, it expresses the sentiment, in Irish: - 'I cool, I refresh, and I can keep secrets' (see Jane Roberts et al, Unfolding Pictures; Fans in the Royal Collection, London, 2005, p.11).