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Eventail des Quat Z'arts (1912) - The BJOH Mystery
                                                cette page en français

The fan below is balloon shaped, the paper leaf is mounted " à l'anglaise" on 8 wood tinted sticks (+ 2 stickss acting as guards) . The paper has a filigree, and is printed and painted on the face only. Though pleasant, and decorated of an inscription in metal spangles, which is not current in this kind, this object hardly appears extraordinary.
However it asks us several questions

At first, let us have a look at it !
On the left a skilful hand has painted a pleasant parrot

On the obverse ( right side), a seal teaches us that this is a Lachelin fan, or more exactly of its successor Brunin (who would have bought the firm on August 3, 1912: note this date!)

On right-hand side, a program of spectacle under the title " 4 Z' arts ".

What are these "Quat Z'arts ?"

They are not the " Gadz' arts ", in spite of the obvious relationship (and sometimes noted confusion). Those are the students of " Arts and Trades " schools ("Arts et Métiers"), for a long time famous for their wild " bizuthage " (initiation) and for the Foucauld pendulum located in the Paris ENSAM.

The " Quat Z' arts " are initially, under a parodic orthography, the" Four Arts ".

These are not here the medieval " quadrivium " (arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry), but the Four " Fine Arts ", i.e. architecture, painting, sculpture and engraving.

For a very long time, the " Beaux Arts " students of Paris were renowned for their unslung festivals, and in particular for the " Quat Z' arts Ball ", characterized by shocking disguise, bawdy attitudes and uncontrolled overflows. See, for example, an old photograph, prince Youssoupof opinion in his memories... or by George Brassens (famous french singer of the years 1950/1970) 

Is it this ball which is illustrated here? We fancied so for a while, but an helpful websurfer, "Noizette", wrote in july 2003 : "Regarding the "bal des quat'z'arts 1912" theme (arabian, "Thousand and One nights kind") it seems there is no direct link with your fan. But the name "quat'z'arts" was used so widely that tracks remain numerous". 
This is confirmed in 2017 by Kathy Maxwell, an Australian collector who knows very well the Belle Epoque hand fans, especially in connection with Montmartre. She gives us a link to a site showing that indeed our fan is surely not connected to this event:

However at first we would have thought so, because on the fan obverse appears a handwritten mention

(Uncle Longuet - 1912 Ball)

Anyway, the fan is in relation with a ball which would have taken place in August 1912 or later.

Several years after we had for the first time posted this page online, we found a second fan with this list of artists of the "Quat Z'arts" and this spangled "BJOH".

This time, no more parrot, but a more local seagull !


In order to learn more, let us consult the artists list.

Jean d' Astorg
is a writer or illustrator of this time
(for instance in "Fantasio"); Marthe Martel was a singer and performer who married in 1909 an unsuccessful poet, Francis Yard. She worked at least in 1905 and 1912 at the Quatre z'Arts cabaret. In 1912, she was in the same show than Jack Cazot, a chansonnier and "meneur de revue" (still in the 30's).

Ludovic Serez
, was a composer who, for instance, wrote the music of "Pour L'inconstant. Chanson Tzigane" (Lyrics by Anne de Bercy - 1941). He was in fact named Bouserez and was from Belgium. (Cf. La Belgique Artistique et Littéraire, n° 85, 15 Oct. 1912, p. 53-59). This article confims that in 1912 he was working at the Quatre z'Arts cabaret. Under his actual name he wrote music for films or opera like  La Carmagnole, drame lyrique de René Jeanne (1922).
Gabriel Montoya and Vincent Hyspa are more renowned: both were Belle Epoque "chansonniers" in Montmartre, and they too worked in "QUAT Z'ARTS" cabaret , boulevard de Clichy in Paris, the most significant cabaret of the beginning of XXth century.

Vincent Hyspa
remained in the memories in particular due to his collaboration with notorious musicians Paul Debussy or Erik Satie... At the end of his life, he even was a cinema second role actor , for instance in René Clair's " A nous la Liberté ! " As for Montoya , a bicycle fall killed him in 1914. This leads to think that the date of the " ball " or representation of the cabaret is between August 1912 and August 1914. Click on the names, you will find some information dealing with each one of these chansonniers

As for Paul Weill, " our comrade " (from Ecole des Beaux-Arts? or from the " Gad z' arts?), we think he must be Paul Weil, a well known chansonnier (later President of  the "Association de la Chanson Française").

Thus, we encounter an apparent contradiction : if the fan comes from " Quat Z' arts " cabaret -which is obvious-, why mention " Ball - 1912 ", and  why is Paul Weil(l) called " our comrade "?


Was the " Quat Z' arts ball " held in 1912 in the cabaret which had taken its name ? Or a ball of some other association or organization ?

We think that we will solve this enigma by having the significance of the 4 mysterious letters which decorate, with spangles, our fan :

Our refexion lead us to the conclusion that these are the initial letters for Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie, Horlogerie. In this case, it could be a "Gai Paris Night" during a professional gathering of jewellers, goldsmiths and clockmakers. The quality of this small paintings, for ephemera casual fans, would lead us rather to an artists meeting rather than to a professionnal  gathering. But jewellers are artists, are not they? We see in various professional journals the use of these initials, and we learn that this professional organization had balls every year. (See for example

For now, this hypothesis has our favour. However, our friend Kathy Maxwell (an Australian collector and researcher) has found in some Parisian newspaper of the time that the Bijouterie trade Union Chamber had in 2012 a ball in February, and another meeting in June. But this was before August, when Brunin bought the Maison Lachelin. And no connection with the QuatZ'arts, or Uncle Longuet. As Kathy writes, "the mystery deepens". Yet, in an Almanac of the "République de Montmartre" we see that his "citizen" Paul Weil (with only one 'l') stayed in Herblay. Hence the idea came to search the internet,  adding in the query "Paul Weil" and "Herblay". We immediately found the excellent website of Hervé David, a "singer specialized in the French song of yesterday" ( Here is an extract of the notice he dedicates to Paul Weil:

Paul WEIL, French songwriter and "revuiste" (Paris, 1865 - Herblay, 1939). He worked for thirty-five years with a jeweler, which did not prevent him from making a fine career as a songwriter. [...] In 1915, he definitively left the jewelery to found, with Tourtal, the Cabaret de la Chaumière. An impassive humorist, he sang  [in a way], which automatically triggered the listeners hilarity. A benevolent satirist, he composed small pochades on the Paris streets traffic... Paul Weil succeeded Fursy and Ferny as president of the Amicale des Chansonniers.

So this seems to have resolved the B.J.O.H. enigma: in 1912, Paul Weil was still employed by a jeweler, and could therefore validly be called "our comrade" at a meeting of the jewelery institutions. However, the exact date of the event that justified these fans would remain to be determined. And we guess we will never know who Uncle Longuet was. We supposes he was in the clockmaking of jewelery trade. Perhaps of the same family than Roland Longuet, now a clockmaker in Clermont-Ferrand?
We can, though, turn this "question" into a "monograph". That does not prevent you from giving your opinion! (See address on the homepage)

... have a look at the other fan monographs

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