Fans have served as accessories of fashion and utility since antiquity but reached their peak production and use in eighteenth-century Europe. Made from and embellished by precious materials such as ivory, mother-of-pearl, and silver and gold leaf, eighteenth-century fans also featured designs that reflected the spirit of their times. Fans addressed current events as well as themes of broad interest, including biblical and mythological tales and romanticized domestic and pastoral vignettes. Fans of the Eighteenth Century explores this quintessential period of fan production through a selection of examples from the permanent collection.
This gem of an exhibition considers the elaborate fans of the 18th-century and is meant to complement the Legion of Honor exhibition "Casanova: The Seduction of Europe." Fans have come to be relegated to antique shops as decorative items, but they were originally truly functional objects, sometimes produced with precious materials and elaborate imagery. Take a closer look.