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House of Courtesans: M.143-1985

Object information

Current Location: In storage


House of Courtesans


Maker: Unknown




Double leaf paper leaf painted in water colours and gold and decorated with mica inserts, applied straw and feathers. Sticks of painted and gilt ivory. Guards of ivory strengthened with tortoiseshell at the head end and overlaid above the shoulder by painted wood decorated with applied feathers. (14+2) Rivet of brass? Front: A house of courtesans comprising a series of buildings with 32 mica windows painted with figures. In the foreground, seven larger scale figures, two holding mica fans painted with a bird; another figure behind the house holds a mica fan painted with a figure. In the background, three flowering trees, the one in the centre having feathered flowers. Back: A Chinese lady standing beside a bare tree and a Chinese lady seated beside a bare tree. Sticks: Painted with a flowering tree, a man and a lady standing on each side of a vase, and a butterfly hovering over a flowering plant. Guards: Ivory plain, wood decorated in green paint and feathers with six swimming ducks, one above the other facing in opposite directions.


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 Museum.

Acquisition and important dates

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


18th Century, Mid
Production date: circa AD 1750


This chinoiserie fan is one of the most fragile and unique in the Collection.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of feathers ( application) mica ( inserts)
Leaf composed of paper ( double) watercolours gold Width 52 cm
Guards Length 30.5 cm

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.143-1985
Primary reference Number: 117728
Old catalogue number: DR 27/349
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 6 September 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "House of Courtesans" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-15 22:10:55

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{{cite web|url= |title=House of Courtesans |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-15 22:10:55|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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