A Restoration fan

Teaching ideas

The following questions invite the students to study the fan in detail and examine some common motifs associated with Britain and the British monarchy, and to consider the purpose of the fan.

Show students an image of the fan. Ask them what they think the inscription ‘The Hapy restoration’ means. Ask them to point out the different motifs on the fan: do they know what the orb, oak leaves and the acorn represent? What was the purpose of combining these motifs together?

Ask students to consider how the fan was made. What kind of person would own a fan like this? How can they tell? Why would someone own something like this? When would they use it? What would they use it for?

Who was pleased by the Restoration? Explore the decoration of the fan to establish that its owner was clearly a supporter of the Restoration. Use the context in which the fan would have been used to discuss what sort of person the owner probably was. You can then broaden the enquiry to identify the sectors of society that supported the Restoration and those that did not and explore the reasons behind the two positions.

Look at the images of the fan, dish, thimble and jug in For the classroom. Ask students to name some similarities and differences between these objects in terms of their representation of Charles and motifs identified. Ask why some of the objects, such as the vase, are in a better condition than others, such as the thimble. Consider how well they are made and the materials they are made from. What can these objects tell us about Charles’s supporters? Did they all come from the same parts of society? How do people nowadays express political allegiance?

Ask students to think about the paraphernalia they have come across celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilees, the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or the birth of Prince George. Discuss some examples, perhaps form the internet or that the students own. In what ways are they similar to or different from those celebrating Charles’s restoration in 1660 or his marriage to Catherine of Braganza? What do these tell us about how the monarchy is represented today or what our views of the monarchy are?

Look at the illustration for A Raree Show in For the classroom. Point out that Charles is represented as a two-faced man, and that the box on his back is a peep-show box. Observe the head of the pope emerging from the box and Westminster labelled as Louis Hall in the background. Discuss whether students think the illustrator supported or opposed Charles II.

Look at the painting by Antonio Verrio showing the King addressing a group of people at Christ’s Hospital. Discuss how this portrays Charles and compare with other portraits form the National Portrait Gallery – link in For the classroom. How do these compare with the king’s reputation as the Merry Monarch? Explore why it is his reputation as the latter that has continued to the present day.

These activities focus on the objects in A bigger picture.

Look at the silver rupee. Point out where Charles’s arms and titles appear and ask students why they think it was necessary to mint coins for use in the East India Company’s territories bearing Charles’s arms and title. Compare with the guinea.

Look at the guinea coin and the seal of the Royal African Company. Ask students to identify European and non-European imagery on both. What do they think the elephant represents on each of the objects, and why was it important to have the elephant on the guinea coin?

Look at the Dutch propaganda image with the class and explain what the scene is showing. Ask students why they think the artist has chosen to portray Charles II and Louis XIV in this way and what it suggests about the Dutch attitude towards the British at this time. Compare with the relationship earlier in Charles’ reign.

Next section: For the classroom

A Restoration fan