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The Fan was Elly Kahnweiler’s personal property and is thought to have been Gustav’s wedding present to her. It has been suggested that the woman in the oval frame is the artist herself. The identification of the other, however, is uncertain. The image is intriguingly ambiguous: the frames, for example, may represent mirrors, or pictures within the picture. The fan, which was a symbol of vanity and one of Laurencin’s favourite accessories, may indicate the presence of another person in the room.

May 2004