PEACOCK'S PLEADINGS continued - page 2
venerates the peacock for different reasons: From antique sources and
from St. Augustin we learn that peacock meat does not rot. That made
the peacock the symbol for eternity and eternal life. Paintings of the
paradise of the 15 and 16 c. (mainly Dutch) depict the peacock, sometimes
though looking like a turkey (both are poultry, and their affinity can
still be recognized in the Spanish word "pavo" for turkey
and "pavo real" for peacock).
Detail of P. Bertelli's costumes' book, 1592 Padua, in "Kunst und Mode aus 5 Jahrhunderten"
the peacock became symbol for arrogance and vanity, due to his superb
beauty. A fan called "Allegory of vanity" by Ludwig von Hofmann
painted in symbolism style, is mentioned and shown in C. Kammerl's first
class reference book "Der Fächer" (photo-No. 156, p.
237, Library No. 23). The same metaphor is used in Fritz Lang's film
classic Metropolis, where a peacock escorts seducing women whereas the
virginal Maria of the film is surrounded by white birds .(www.mytholyoke.edu/~ahstroud/uebertriebene.html).
The Renaissance period brought feather fans to a first zenith. However, only one depiction of the so-called "Donzella di Millano" (fig. 9) shows a peacock feather fan. Therefore, it can be assumed that the majority of feather fans consisted of ostrich feathers artfully dyed in Italy.
In the 18 century, the "golden era" of the fan, feather fans disappear totally. Mythological representations show Hera-Juno escorted by peacocks. The peacock feather becomes a symbol of a married woman. 19 century remakes of 18 c. fans show the same symbol (e.g. photo No. 123, p. 210, C. Kammerl, Library No.23).
From 1800 onwards, small silken fans embroidered with sequins in floral or geometrical designs were in fashion. Sometimes persons were depicted. The catalogue of the "Mainfränkisches Museum Würzburg" (Library No. 29) shows a fan with a peacock embroidered in golden sequins (p. 138).
Around 1850, (painted) goose feather fans with peacock feathers as decoration were produced in China. They were export fans for Europe (see fig.8.).
During the second half of the 19 century, the peacock re-appears as decoration on fans. In particular artistic lace fans depict the peacock, one example is shown as No. 85 in "Unfolding Beauty" (Library No.32) made of black Chantilly-lace. The interest for everything exotic or oriental is a side-effect of the world exhibitions. It inspired fashion as well as arts where Art Nouveau takes up the floral flow whereas the later Art Déco imitates and transforms the far-eastern clear geometrical ornaments. Feathers and fans experience a new - and last - high time before the final crepuscule.
©mm except indication of other sources