Fashion is...fAn!

Explore hidden stories depicted in fans from Europe and China

Palazzo Madama

Fan with country scenes (1850/1855) by FrancePalazzo Madama

Palazzo Madama fans collection

The museum collection of fans  includes about ninety elements acquired thanks to important bequests, such as that of Ettore Mentore Pozzi in 1931 (48 items) and the sisters Adele and Eleonora Govone's in 1948 (14 items). The collection consists mainly of folding fans from Europe and the Orient, made with various techniques 

Fan with royal court scene (1840/1840) by ChinaPalazzo Madama

From China 

Hand fans were introduced in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries from the Middle East. Portuguese traders brought them back from China and Japan in the 16th century, and fans became generally popular. The Chinese  word for fixed fan, "pien-mien", means 'to agitate the air'. 

Brisé fan, lanscape and chinese figures (1800/1815) by ChinaPalazzo Madama

Questo prezioso ventaglio, realizzato in tartaruga e seta, è stato prodotto in Cina all'inizio dell'Ottocento.

It represents landscape and chinese charachters, carved into the tortoise shell.

The iscription in the middle says "Jacoba van der Capellen", daughter of Godert van der Capellen, Commissioner of the East India Company from 1816 to 1819.

Fan with royal court scene (1840/1840) by ChinaPalazzo Madama

Fan with private life scenes (1780/1800) by FrancePalazzo Madama


In the 18th century, fans reached a high degree of artistry and were being made throughout Europe often by specialized craftsmen, either in leaves or sticks. Folded fans of silk or parchment were decorated and painted by artists. 

Fan with Cherubs (1770/1780) by FrancePalazzo Madama

Fan with country scenes (1850/1855) by FrancePalazzo Madama

All'inizio del 17 secolo i ventagli rigidi vennero sostituiti dai ventagli a stecche, pieghevoli. Erano costruiti con materiali leggeri, come carta e pergamena montate su stecche d'avorio, tartaruga o legno. I decoratori spesso rappresentavano scene storiche, con temi mitologici o pastorali.

Fan with country scenes (back) (1851/1856) by FrancePalazzo Madama

Fan, mythological scenes (back) (1781/1821) by School of MarattaPalazzo Madama

The fan represents On the one hand Hercules between the Vizio and Virtue

Fan, mythological scenes (1780/1820) by School of MarattaPalazzo Madama

On the other side, a roman landscape with
ruins and antiquities.

The author of this fan is to be found in the Roman cultural circle of the classical painter Carlo Maratta, active in the late seventeenth century.

In the first half of the eighteenth century Maratta paintings was copied by engravers and often reproduced on objects like this fan.

Credits: Story

Il museo ringrazia il team di Artcamera!
Assistenza alle riprese: Tiziana Caserta
Mostra curata da Carlotta Margarone

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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