Félix Alexandre: his fans were called “the richest of any exhibited” at London’s 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition; they were commissioned and carried by European royalty, and painted by the artistic masters of the 19th century. His fans represented a lifestyle of luxury, ornate works of art that communicated the status and wealth of their owners. Today, fans bearing his signature reside in museums around the world, and two examples are currently on display in the FIDM Museum exhibition A Graceful Gift: Fans from the Mona Lee Nesseth Collection.
Little is known about the early life of this gifted artist. He was born November 23, 1823 in Paris; records indicate he began his career painting and designing textiles and wallpaper. He joined the house of Desrochers in 1849 as a fan painter specializing in flowers. After marrying M. Desrochers’ daughter, he took over the business and started manufacturing fans that were quickly recognized as the finest in the world. His reputation was further buoyed when the glamorous and fashionable Empress Eugenie of France began carrying his fans, which sparked a devoted royal following that included Queen Victoria, Queen Louise of the Netherlands, the Queen of Spain, and Empress Maria of Russia. Alexandre’s work was prominently displayed in the fan pavilions at the 1862 World Exhibition in London and the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle, prompting additional royal commissions.
Attributed to Félix Alexandre, Artist
Marguerite-Fanny Dubois-d'Avesnes, Painter
France, c. 1855-65
Mother-of-pearl & parchment