The present jewelled fan exemplifies Fabergé's transformation of utilitarian objects into fashionable luxury items. At the turn of the twentieth century, fans were an essential element of the fashionable lady's wardrobe and opulently decorated pieces were requisite at court and for important balls. From the painted leaf, to the mother-of-pearl sticks and applied jewelled guards, up to eight craftsmen could be involved in the creation of a single fan. The use of pastoral scenes such as those on the present lot was particularly popular and complementary to Fabergé's designs.
The Paris Donzel family of painters consisted of a father, uncle and son, who specialised in painting fans with fête galante scenes in the second half of the nineteenth century. They worked for two of the leading French fan makers, Duvelleroy and Kees, who exported decorative leaves to Russia, where Fabergé jewelled the mounts. A related example of a fan painted by J. Donzel fils with Fabergé mounts was given by Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich to the actress Madame Elisabeth Balletta and is now held in the McFerrin Collection (C. L. McCanless and A. Wintraecken, 'The Art of the Fan in the McFerrin Collection', From a Snowflake to an Iceberg: The McFerrin Collection, Houston, 2013, pp. 219-227).
Two further fans similarly painted by J. Donzel fils and dated circa 1890 are held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession numbers 63.90.99 and 1987.123.2.