Achille in the Gyneceum

Achille in the Gyneceum

France around 1750

Single page in kid skin, painted at gouache, framed according to the English style.
Length cm. 26,5
Spread, cm 51
22 sticks plus 2 head ones incised
in the frontal scene of the fan 4 female figures are present  looking with great interest at a basket full of jewels; on their right, on a architectonic background in Doric style, in a landscape that reminds a marine environment- represented by a sail, 2 male figures on foot are present and a figure dressed with feminine clothes , but with a sword and a crest in the hands. On the right three figures close the scene, while on the left a female figure, with the uncovered breasts, could remind to the classical representation of the Nereids and consequently to Thetis. This figuration shades at the extremities ( dead corner) in an ornamental solution with vegetal themes according to the style of the chinoiseries of the retro, golden painted. The head stick has the peculiarity to have a red colored leaf to make stand the central figure out. The other sticks are in fretted and painted ivory with the technique Vernis Martin. The peculiarity  consists in the application of feathers to complete the birds and the fabrics in order to represent the flowers, typically Chinese, then the profiles of the sticks are damascened with very little pearl nogs that make them more changing and brighter. The same theme is faced in the verse of the other fan 

Mythological note:

Just before the Troy’s war, Tethis, to save her son who was destined to die, tried to hide him sending him on Sciro’s Isle, to the court of King Licomede, where he was dressed with feminine clothes and mixed with king’s daughters. Once known Achille was hidden in that court, Ulysses invented a very  cunning design to unmask him and he gave to the King’s daughters a box of jewels, clothes and other objects among whom there were a sword and a shield. Ulysses gave the order and a trumpeter started to play, a great battle followed; Achille reacted instinctively unmasking himself in front of Ulysses. Synthesis from : Metamorfosi  of Ovidio (XIII, 162-170), and  Iliade (I, 345 e ssg.).

The schedule has been created by Dott. Luciana Iacono


the subject represents a spring landscape with, at the center, a woman and a child dressed in a Chinese style and covered by a sunshade; on the right of the page a servant taking two baskets is present. Following, a particular, inserted in a rhombus, divides the scene in 2 parts, a typical representation of Louis XV fashion. The represented object is not easily recognizable ; it could be a loom. On the left there floral themes that divide again the scene. Even if this representation is clearly an imitation of the oriental style, the link to the Asiatic techniques is even more interesting  in the work of the sticks. These one are clearly of English manufacturing but they simulate in a very evident way the practices and the subjects of the Chinese Masters….[ …..]
Maria Alessandra Chessa  op. cit. pag. 38 

"Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail." Leonardo Da Vinci