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Le loup et l'agneau
The wolf and the lamb
(click here for this page in French!)

Reminder: the reproduction of all or part of the texts or photos on this site, for any use and in any form whatsoever, is prohibited without our agreement.

During the lockdown due to the famous Covid 19, the Cercle de l'Eventail had the good idea to ask its members to present some of their fans, in order to entertain the community of collectors, forced to stay at home with, in some regions, the anxiety of knowing loved ones affected by the disease, or the fear of being a victim.

This judicious initiative was very successful. It is on the same model that we show you a fan, but by giving access not only to the members of the Fan Circle (always welcome, like those of the Fan Circle International or the Fan Association of North America) but also to other visitors to this site.

A very ordinary hand fan

The Wolf and the Lamb

Folding fan. (10 sticks + 2 guards, 21,8 cm, leaf 13,6 cm)

Single paper leaf, recto printed in colours.

Sticks in white lacquered wood, embossed with silver floral patterns. Metal rivet and stoppers.. Guilloche steel loop.

We can describe the recto like this : "on a blue-green background with an iris in the foreground, in shadow, a wolf raised on its front legs observes a lamb located further in a fearful attitude".

    Loup et agneau                              Collection CPHB


The verso is void, except for a colored paper stamp: "Bail Cotillon 210 rue de Rivoli".


The maison Bail is well known for the many objects it offered for the entertainment of  balls, dancing teas and other celebrations. The clientele was made up of individuals who received anonymous fans, such as the one seen above. Orders were most often made in "programmes" (packages) comprising a quantity of accessories to be used depending on the course of the event. An idea will be given by these extracts from the 1908 catalog of the maison Bail.

Couverture Bail    bail détail

The company was also aimed at well-to-do people who had event fans (and other objects) made. In this category, Bail targeted in particular professional or municipal organizations such as casinos or the "Société des Fêtes de la Ville de Paris". Among this recurring clientele were student associations and in particular the one  which every year organized the "Bals de Saint Cyr", a prestigious French military school. Those fans are well known to collectors.

Story of this fan, and discovery of a mirror brother

It is interesting to note that this very ordinary fan was acquired during an auction of the Cercle de l'Eventail, held on the property of the late Michel Maignan, President of the Cercle. The purchase was made, as often in these circumstances, more with the aim of contributing - very modestly - to the budget of the association than by a genuine interest for this object. But it seems that a good deed, even minimal, is  never wasted. In fact, a few months later, the purchasers of this fan stopped in front of the sheet shown below.

feuille loup

It is a fan leaf of a type which, in the catalog mentioned above would undoubtedly belong, under the reference 20347, to the category of fans "Ombrés silhouettes peinture", sold 6.5 Fr. the dozen. This leaf is obviously stenciled for the wolf and the lamb, "crachotis" for blue hues and a light brushstroke for yellow. It includes at the bottom, at the location of the "gorge" of the fan, a handwritten mention "100 f le 1000" which certainly corresponds to a cost. Alas, we cannot say which one: certainly not a cost of finished fans but more probably a cost of printing.

You shall have noted, of course, the usual inversion between the project and the printed object. There is also an important difference between the background of the project and that of the mounted fan, not to mention the iris which on the fan appears in the foreground without any valid reason. We much prefer - but it's a matter of taste! - the slightly scary atmosphere of the project. It seems to us that the poor lamb is more likely to be eaten there. No doubt it is in order not to traumatize its clientele that Maison Bail has preferred to produce a more peaceful  fan! However, at the beginning of the 20th century, all young French people knew by heart the end of the famous fable by Jean de La Fontaine:

Là-dessus, au fond des forêts
            Le loup l'emporte et puis le mange,
       Sans autre forme de procès.
(Saying this, into the woods
The wolf carries the lamb, and then eats him
Without any other why or wherefore).

It is on this terrible image (but allowing to appreciate the technique used) that we too will leave you, while wishing you sweet dreams, where the wolf and the lamb would love each other like brothers..

détail loup agneau

Reminder: the reproduction of all or part of the texts or photos on this site, for any use and in any form whatsoever, is prohibited without our agreement.

Do not hesitate to give me any comment or question, about this page or about European hand fans!

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