Skip to navigation Skip to main content
The Fan Museum will be closed to the public from Monday March 16 2020 until further notice
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).

Browse Past Displays

Museum Opening Times

Museum closed until further notice

-------------------

Planned Closures

Find out more here

12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER

Admission

Adults: £5.00

Concessions: Info £3.00

Children (age 7-16): £3.00

National Trust Members:

50% discount on the adult price ticket

Free Entry for...

Children under 7, Art Fund Members and London Pass Members

Receptions room hire Greenwich

Venue Hire

Make the museum the location for your next special event.

Search the Website

Enter a search term below to search the whole website.

Join the Newsletter

Get regular updates on upcoming events and new displays.

* = required field

Easily opt-out at any time - Privacy Policy

Museum Admission Pricing

Adults: £5.00
Children (age 7-16): £3.00
Concessions: £3.00
  • Students (with vaild student card)
  • Senior citizens
  • Registered disabled
  • English Heritage
  • Friends of The Horniman
  • Friends of The Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Members/Volunteers of the National Maritime Museum
National Trust Members:

50% discount on the Adult price tickets

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.

Group Bookings
X

The Fan Museum will be closed to the public from Monday March 16 2020

Following careful consideration of the current course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to implement a planned closure of The Fan Museum. We have made this decision in the interests of the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, partners and visitors. We are not aware of any specific health risk to staff or visitors.

We will continue to conduct as much of our work as we can remotely. For any enquiries please email info@thefanmuseum.org.uk