L’éventail au XVIII e siècle : un masque féminin avec tout un éventail de fonctions
Fans of the 18th century: a feminine mask with many functions
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In the chapter entitled “Des différentes manières de se servir de l’éventail”, included in hisLivre des quatre couleurs, Caraccioli explains the Oriental origins of the fan. Such interest in the fan on the part of one of the leading analysts of French customs reflects the increasing fascination amongst French women and men in the eighteenth century with such sartorial gadget. Addison in a “satire of the coquettes”, published by The Spectator, describes it as the main weapon of high society women. From its primary use as a flyswatter, he will draw further purposes. But mostly, to encourage love affairs, for the fan aids the lady who is not allowed to engage in a conversation with a stranger but who, thanks to such object, will explore a body language enriched with a myriad of gallant significations. The pictorial and literary imagination that translates this social phenomenon in thus unveiled.
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