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Object Timeline

1952

  • We acquired this object.

2013

2015

2020

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Pleated Mourning Fan (France)

This is a Pleated mourning fan. It was manufactured by Duvelleroy. We acquired it in 1952. Its medium is silk crepe leaf, painted wood guards and sticks inlaid with black spangles, guards cut à jour, horn washer and metal loop at the rivet, silk ribbon. It is a part of the Textiles department.

In Europe and the US, middle- and upper-class women followed strict and complicated etiquette guidelines in daily life, including after a family member’s death. Etiquette dictated that a survivor follow at least two phases of mourning—deep followed by half, or second, mourning—to publicly proclaim her grief. Deep mourning, when she was expected to seclude herself from most social gatherings and wear only dull blacks, lasted a few weeks to a year, depending on the mourner’s relationship to deceased, with widows invariably mourning the longest. Women were expected to replace their ordinary goods—dresses, hats, handkerchiefs, stationery, parasols, fans, and so on—with specific mourning ones, always in the latest styles. Daily newspapers, fashion magazines, and etiquette books prescribed ways for women to mourn “well,” fashionably yet still respectfully grief-stricken; to err in doing so was an insult to both society and the deceased. This simple fan of fragile black crepe silk—an unmistakable signifier for mourning—by the prestigious évantailliste Maison Duvelleroy, was likely used in deep mourning, helping the user proclaim her grief, her role in polite society, and her fashionability.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Accessory to Grief.

This object was donated by Unknown.

Cite this object as

Pleated Mourning Fan (France); Manufactured by Duvelleroy ; silk crepe leaf, painted wood guards and sticks inlaid with black spangles, guards cut à jour, horn washer and metal loop at the rivet, silk ribbon; 1952-161-226

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18391129/ |title=Pleated Mourning Fan (France) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 September 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>