Brisé Fan of Horn with Piqué Work

This brisé fan is made of sticks of very thin horn, decorated with brown paint, gilt, and polished steel piqué work. It is much more beautiful in person, as it was difficult to photograph it with all the shiny bits shown at their best advantage. The style is typically Regency, but showing the beginnings of a Gothic style of decoration, with hints of Gothic arches and tracery.

Brisé fan of horn with piqué work of polished steel. English c1810-1815.

The sticks of the fan have not been pierced, with the exception of the slits for the ribbon, but have been left intact to receive painted, gilt, and applied decoration.

Detail showing piqué work.

Piqué work was a decorative technique made by inlaying tiny points or pins of gold or other polished metals in patterns upon various materials. It is often seen in brisé fans of the Regency, especially on tortoiseshell and horn. The tiny disks are inlaid into shallow recesses with glue. Sadly, many of the piqué disks, as here, have been lost, as opening and closing the fan would have dislodged them over time. But there are enough remaining in this fan to see what the original effect would have been, with the gleaming silver inlay, and the added gilt decoration, against the darker horn.

The guards of the fan are also decorated with piqué work. As well as the tiny disks around the edges, specially shaped bits of piqué are used to create the floral pattern, inlaid with the precision of a complex mosaic.


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