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The Orangery will be closed on Saturday 20th May for a private function.
Entrance to Greenwich Fan Museum

Everyday Life on the Leaf of a Fan

1st March - 27th July 2011

Everyday life on the leaf of a fan

Fans with scenes of everyday life abound in the eighteenth century and in Japan at almost any time, so it is interesting to ponder why such subjects were more popular at one time or another or why they appear more frequently on Japanese fans than, for example, on Chinese fans.

It is always worth looking at the social scene at any one period in time and the place of the fan within those years. For example, we know that fans were expensive accessories during the 17th century and that they were mainly for the use – in Europe – of wealthy women. It is also true to say that in general, these women, from aristocratic or at least well-off families, were well-educated and knowledgeable in the classics. At this time, music, opera and theatrical performances drew on mythology and the bible for themes, as indeed did painting. It is not, therefore, surprising that fans made during the first part of the 17th century also reflect this trend as the users of fans would be well acquainted with such themes.

With a growing middle class and the advent of cheaper fans, the theme on French fans often illustrated a busy world: from the purchasing of fans at the Palais Royal [c.f. ABRAHAM BOSSE’s (1602-1676) engraving La “Galerie du Palais” in 1736] to the depiction of the “Trades of Paris” (a series of extended fan leaves in the Musee Carnavelet).

However, during the following century, many fans, particularly in France, show an increasingly idealised view of the countryside, of shepherds and shepherdesses in languorous attitudes quite unlike reality (as painted by BOUCHER 1703-1770 and others). By the end of the 18th century and with the writings of JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) advocating a return to nature, highly idealized family groups begin to disappear from the leaf of the fan, together with “bergerades”, “fete champetre” and all the amorous goings on of a society wishing to avoid the harsh realities of everyday life.

In the 19th century, the “opening up” of a world through increased trade and travel to an ever-growing number of people exposes a wide audience to the fans of China (Nos. 39-44) and Japan. Indeed, the influence of Japanese art upon the European art scene is paramount and Japanese fans – even those made for export – show an exotic, polite and totally new picture of another civilisation (Nos. 45-63).

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Museum Opening Times

Tuesday - Saturday

11am - 5pm

Sunday

12pm - 5pm

12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER

Admission

Adults: £4.00

Concessions: Info £3.00

Children (age 7-16): £3.00

National Trust Members:

50% discount across all admission categories

Free Entry for...

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Afternoon Tea at Greenwich Fan Museum

Tea in the Orangery

Enjoy afternoon tea in the beautifully muraled museum orangery.

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Museum Admission Pricing

Adults: £4.00
Children (age 7-16): £3.00
Concessions: £3.00
  • Students (upon presentation of NUS card)
  • Senior citizens
  • Registered disabled
  • English Heritage
  • Friends of The Horniman
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  • Members/Volunteers of the National Maritime Museum
National Trust Members:

50% discount across all admission categories

Free Entry for…

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Tuesday Special:

Free entry for senior citizens and disabled visitors (except for groups)

Please note that the discounts listed above cannot be applied when visitors are part of a large group visit or guided tour group.  Please click here for further details.

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