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Fan

  • Place of origin:

    Flanders (possibly, made)
    China (sticks, made)
    Italy (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1700-1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum (calf), carved ivory sticks and guards (probably Loxodonta sp.), turtle shell head (probably Eretmochelys imbricata, hawksbill turtle)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Admiral Sir Robert and Lady Prendergast

  • Museum number:

    T.22-1957

  • Gallery location:

    In store

This fan is an excellent example of the way in which trade shaped the world of goods in the seventeenth century. It combines ivory sticks carved in China with a pleated vellum leaf painted in watercolours by a Flemish artist. Both elements reflect contemporary taste.

The fan depicts Belshazzar's Feast, a story from Old Testament Book of Daniel which tells how the Babylonian king Belshazzar profaned the holy vessels taken from the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar. While the Persian armies were preparing to attack him, Belshazzar held a feast and used the holy vessels to serve his guests. In response to this profane act, a ghostly arm appeared and wrote a cryptic message on the wall of the banqueting chamber. The fan leaf depicts this moment. According to the Bible, it was Daniel, a Hebrew slave, who eventually deciphered the 'writing on the wall' to mean 'you have been measured and found wanting'. Shortly after this incident, Belshazzar was killed by the invading armies and the new Persian king gave the Hebrews their freedom.

Physical description

Fan, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ of Watercolour on vellum; carved and pierced ivory (probably Loxodonta sp.) sticks and guards; turtle shell head (probably Eretmochelys imbricata, hawksbill turtle); metal pivot, Flanders with Chinese sticks and guards.

Place of Origin

Flanders (possibly, made)
China (sticks, made)
Italy (possibly, made)

Date

1700-1720 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum (calf), carved ivory sticks and guards (probably Loxodonta sp.), turtle shell head (probably Eretmochelys imbricata, hawksbill turtle)

Dimensions

Width: 51.5 cm Open, Height: 31.7 cm Open

Object history note

RF number: 56/1480. Exhibited in: "Taste for the Exotic," Passmore Edwards Museum, London (14 Nov. 1990 to 14 April 1991).

Descriptive line

Fan, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ of Watercolour on vellum; carved and pierced ivory sticks and guards; turtle shell head; metal pivot, Flanders with Chinese sticks and guards, c. 1690-1720

Materials

Ivory; Tortoise shell; Water-colour; Vellum; Animal material - Eretmochelys imbricata

Techniques

Hand carving; Pleating

Subjects depicted

Nymph; Cupids; Birds

Categories

Eating; Accessories; Fans; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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