Thomasse or Not Thomasse?

By Serge Davoudian

It is so interesting to refer to the historical and social background of the era we wish to understand, in this case, Belle Époque. Newspaper articles are perfectly suited to this purpose and complement the research of experienced collectors and professionals of our favourite fashion accessory, namely, the fan.

A lecture was given by Mrs Rose von Aprath at the annual meeting of fan collectors in Mindelheim, Germany in the summer of 2022. Her research focused on the changes in fan prices during the 19th and 20th centuries.

This is how the « case » of the painter Adolphe Thomasse (1850/1930) came back to my mind, especially through this very instructive newspaper article dated 1898 and the reading of the numerous commercial catalogues of Maison Duvelleroy issued in the years preceding WW1.

The article in Le Figaro reports on the competition for « Un éventail d’été » [A Summer Fan] organised by the Comité du syndicat de l’Éventail [The Committee of the Union of Fanmakers] announcing the success of Maison Duvelleroy in the competition. The newspaper officially informs readers that copies of the winning fan, available on subscription, will be produced under the artist’s supervision, and that the delivery will be made as soon as possible.

This obviously raises issues concerning the numerous signed and unsigned fan leaves by Thomasse, and questions the commercial (and marketing) policy of the famous Parisian firm headed by Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy’s son, which was in full swing in the late years of Belle Époque.

It was in this context of competitive modernity that Jean-Pierre Duvelleroy’s illegitimate son, Jules Duvelleroy, who had settled in London, went so far as to invent the famous « language of the fan ».

The Fanmakers’ Salon

The Committee of the Union of Fanmakers met yesterday at the Salon du Figaro and made public their choice in the competition they had staged for the completion of a Summer fan.

The main winners are:

1st Prize: M.Adolphe Thomasse

2nd Prize, in joint place: Mlle Vimont, Mme Marthe Saint-Maxen, M.Frédéric Cayeux

In addition, First-Class Honours were awarded to (suivent les noms)

At our request M.Duvelleroy will immediately launch the production of the delightful fan designed by M.Thomasse, which won First Prize.

The Summer Fan will be hand-painted in watercolour, under the supervision of M.Thomasse. It will be mounted by Maison Duvelleroy.

The price is 5 francs, including the box and shipping costs.

Our readers who wish to subscribe can contact the Salon du Figaro in person or by mail. Orders will be dealt with on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.

Deliveries will start in a fortnight.

Translation AMK

Translate »