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Folding fan: M.14-1985

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Maker: Unknown




Folding fan, double paper leaf, painted in polychrome watercolour and body colour. Sticks pierced, carved and painted ivory; guards carved and painted ivory inlaid with tortoiseshell and mother of pearl (20+2); rivet set with clear pastes. Front: three theatrical scenes.

Folding fan, double paper leaf, painted in polychrome watercolour and body colour. Sticks pierced, carved and painted ivory; guards carved and painted ivory inlaid with tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl (20+2); rivet set with clear pastes. Indistinct inscription in the bottom left corner on the reverse. Front: three theatrical scenes. In the centre, Mars is kneeling with a shield and Venus holding a helmet; on the left; perhaps Venus with a mirror, leaning her arms on a plinth with a sphinx; beside her a tambourine on an open book of music; on the right, two women are sitting and leaning back towards the other on the right who is stepping onto a footstool; in the background, two columns on a podium behind Mars, and a vase on a pedestal. Top left and right borders are of a colourful and striped foliage with grapes, and a small curtain and tassels in the top right half; the top and lower edging are of a gold foile, the right and left edges have a gold line. Back: in the middle, a couple in contemporary dress and a man watching them from behind a tree. A big tree in the background, small trees on the left. Top border of gold striped swags of drapery in puce and blue; bottom left border painted with a gold line. Sticks: in the centre, between wavy lines, animals including two hounds and a deer; buildings right and left. On top, squirrels, birds and putti in scrolling foliage; underneath, pairs of sheep, leaves and blossoms. Parts of the sticks are shaped to produce a pattern when open. The reverse shows the same scene in reversed order with fewer colours used and without carved parts. Guards: both guards are decorated in the same way: shoulder of tortoiseshell inlaid with three diagonal stripes, the top and bottom ones are ivory, the middle one is mother of pear; the right and left border are also mother-of-pearl. Guard proper: Outer border mother-of-pearl, inner border tortoiseshell, inner part of carved and painted ivory; wavy, scrolling ornament with pairs of animals, a house, a bird and a shell on top.


History note: Colonel Leonard C. Messel (1872-1953); his daughter Anne, Countess of Rosse (1902-1992)

Legal notes

Purchased with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a gift from the Friends of the Fitzwilliam

Measurements and weight

Width: 45.0 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1985-01-28) by Countess of Rosse, Anne


18th Century, second quarter#
Production date: circa AD 1740

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Leaf composed of watercolour ( polychrome) bodycolour ( polychrome) paper
Guards composed of tortoise shell mother-of-pearl Length 29.1 cm
Sticks+guards composed of ivory

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.14-1985
Primary reference Number: 117600
Old catalogue number: DR 23/305
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Folding fan" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-19 17:07:36

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{{cite web|url= |title=Folding fan |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-19 17:07:36|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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