Lady with a Fan, c. 1869-1870

Not on Viewexpand_more

Like Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, and other women who found recognition in the male-dominated art world of late 19th-century France, Eva Gonzalès used family members as models. Her younger sister Jeanne figured frequently in her work and is surely the model for this pastel. Gonzalès made the drawing at the age of twenty-two, the year she entered Édouard Manet’s studio—as his only formal pupil.

Soft and velvety in execution, this work is a masterly composition of arcs and bends, the pleated fan echoed in the pleated sleeves and the thick folds of the gown. Gonzalès’s audience would have known the language of the fan, an indispensable accessory newly revived with Napoleon III’s marriage to the Spanish-born Eugénie de Montijo in 1853. Here the fan does not serve for modesty or seduction but instead symbolically conceals the woman’s private thoughts. Head turned away, her reverie is inward and unknowable. The shimmering dress and fan distract our attention so she can be left to herself.

Lady with a Fan
Artist Life
1847 - 1883
Accession Number
Georges Charpentier, Paris (by 1885-1907; his sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, April 11, 1907, no. 44, as "Variation sue 'La Finette' de Watteau," for Fr 85). Claude de Boisanger, Paris, in 1959. [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1966-67; bought from art trade in November 1966; sold, March 1967, for $13,500 to Dayton]; Bruce B. Dayton, Wayzata, MN (1967-72; gave to MIA)
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.