Skip to main content

Folding fan: M.14-1985

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Unknown (Maker)


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


Second quarter of 18th century
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 Rivet Sticks

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: Sunday 21 March 2021

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 (2022) "Folding fan" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-08-16 20:07:17

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Folding fan |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-08-16 20:07:17|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...