fans were true artists

Among the Plates of the Pays de Thelle, who settled in the Meru region, the Andevilles specialized in carving fans, supplying the greatest courts of France and Europe with works of mother-of-pearl, ivory, and ebony. XVIIIe and XXe century

It belongs to the 17th centurye In 1776, tablet makers and admirers united in the century around Méru, only the artistic part of the work (engraving, sculpture, jewelry, etc. other decorations).

Throughout the eighteenth centurye Fans of the Pays de Thelle of the century will essentially remain tablets, it will be necessary to wait for the beginning of the XIX century.e century, about 1828, and the fashion for beautiful admirers, so that true artists came to distinguish themselves in Andeville and Sainte-Geneviève by the art of mother-of-pearl carving.

The arrival of Mr. Willaume, an unemployed Parisian engraver, to Sainte-Geneviève will be the origin. He will impart his knowledge within a year, but is very quickly overwhelmed by his students.

Andevillians committed to handicraft

Finding a new, highly profitable niche there, these fan table makers proliferated in the Meru region, growing from 36 carvers in 1836 to 400 in 1860. It should be noted that all luxury exports, 90% of consumption passed through their hands. french To meet the demand during this period, the engravers of Sainte Geneviève would even invent the process of engraving and sculpting with the wheel. This technique will make this village famous. At Andeville, on the other hand, the tablets will stick to handcraft, from the chisel to the tray, then to the carver and engraver, that is, about 80 different tools for each carver-sculptor.

Admittedly, fans never used the word “artist” to describe themselves out of modesty. They called themselves workers, cutters, engravers or sculptors. “A fan’s frame is a collective work, but never anonymous” wrote François Taupinard, a table-maker and historian from Andeville. And it continues: “You have to consider the beautiful tracks, where the artists perform their numbers one after the other, as a complete show. The mother-of-pearl, who could name the workers responsible for this work, was sorted and prepared at Poulet. Bourgau liners came from the fingers of François-Augustin Devarenne. It was Léon Barré who shaped the ropes. The cutter is Auguste Verry. Engraved by Rosalba Levasseur, sculpted by Edouard Bastard. His son Elpheg designed and composed the entire frame and sculpted the heads and hands. Marguerite Hebert is covered in gold. The whole region is amazed by the talent and honesty of these workers and their fifty people. Duvelleroy and other influential suppliers to foreign courts who knew them personally and saw them at work, in the workshop or at home.

These fans will never stop looking for perfection and quality of execution, starting with the elementary technique of the instrument, without studying the description, often dutifully copying the intermediate documents. In fact, it was the arrival of the railway (1875) and his many trips to Paris to meet his clients, explore the luxurious shop windows and visit the museums that quickly gave him artistic training. .

With the available resources, an art school was established in Andeville, the first courses were taught by the best decorators, then in 1880 the municipal course gave way to the “Andeville School of Fine Arts”. Courses given simultaneously at Andeville and Sainte-Geneviève would be provided by Georges Perrichon, then by his son Jules-Léon, both painters and engravers.

A symbol of the power of Oise workers, the distinction of the Bastard family over the centuries testifies to the ambitions of these dynasties dedicated to the workshop for the admirer. The first representative depicted is Louis-Isidore. He is one of the great artists of this recognition, following in the footsteps of his first cousin Georges Bastard (1881-1939). Heir to a long painting established in Oise and Paris, he took his first steps in his native village of Andeville, joining the workshops of his father Elphege (1860-1917) and grandfather Edouard (1829-1898). Like many artists of the late 19th centurye In the 18th century, their talent was used in the reproduction of 18th century decorationse remain unshakable models of the century. Both of them evoked the dithyrambic lyrics of one of their contemporaries, Anatole Devarenne (1880-1954). An artist himself, also an Andevillian, he does not hesitate to write that he is the first “more than a fan maker. The title of goldsmith is not too much for him. Mr. Bastard is a mother-of-pearl engraver.” ; he describes the second one as follows “engraver”.

Discovering this talent, which is probably unique to the men of the family, the father and grandfather send the young man to follow the teachings of the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. His training ended very quickly, Georges Bastard took part in major events. Thus, at the age of 27, he appeared in an exhibition at the Galliera Palace in 1908 with his sculptor-admirer Alfred Jorel (1860-1927). Now his hand was freed from the tutelage of his peers to infuse a new spirit into the range. . In 1917, this unprecedented inspiration led Auguste Conte to call him the “renovator of fantasy.” Ten years later, René Chavance (1879–1961) followed this analysis: “His first fans, his first boxes, his first brush frames were decorated with flowers, leaves and insects. But already we feel a concern for sobriety, a very rare sense of balance in those days..

“Fontior Repairman”, Georges Bastard of course. Artists like him who understand the need to let go of the models of the past are truly exceptional. Reproduction of decorations in the style of the 18th centurye The century that made the great clocks of the Oise tablet factory would indeed lead to its downfall. Already in 1889, Antoni Valabreg was worried about the creative weakness of tablet fan manufacturers. He writes: “Industrial superiority is measured above all by original creativity; Even if these reproductions were seriously admirable, it would be pointless to limit ourselves to copies. Later in his article entitled “A Dying Industry, Fan Gear”, Henri Clouzot objects to this lack of innovation. According to him, this creates a resentment of fans and women with delicately sculpted frames. The know-how of the masters is not in question, their technical mastery is undeniable, but copying old models is no longer fashionable. From the end of the 19th yeare century, the success of fans of feathers or lace built simple frames, often devoid of motifs or accents. Fashion changes that led to the decline of the art industry that made the villages of Méru, Sainte-Geneviève and Andeville famous.

Following in the footsteps of Georges Bastard, several tablet fan manufacturers realized the urgent need to update the fan, which is no longer a fashion accessory, but an art object.

Sources: Anatole Devarenne, “Fans and Admirers in Andeville,” Meru’s diary1904, n° 33. And 19th-century Table Makers-Fans in the Meru Region by Georgina Letourmy-Bordier – https://journals.openedition.org/

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