Elizabethan Folding Fan by Unknown Artist

The earliest fans to arrive from trading destinations such as Venice and Portugal took the form of rigid screens fixed to jewel-encrusted handles.


Ivory, silk and embroidery
19 × 29cm
Art Fund grant:
£12,500 ( Total: £45,000)
Acquired in:
Private vendor

But folding models from the East had become fashionable by 1588, when repairs to fans ‘with branches of Iverye’ are recorded in the inventories of Elizabeth I. The condition of this fan is exceptional, with the polychrome embroidery on the leaves still clearly showing a decoration of vines, flowers, fruits and a snail. More than 400 years old, it now represents a unique record of fan-making in Britain before the trade began to flourish with the arrival of the French Huguenots in the late 17th century.


Purchased by the current owner, Mrs A E Sanger, at Phillips London, c. 1975. The Museum has agreed to carry out an Art Loss Register search.

Venue details

The Fan Museum 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, LONDON London SE10 8ER 020 8305 1441 www.thefanmuseum.org.uk

Entry details

Free with National Art Pass (standard entry £4)

Tue – Sat, 11am – 5pm Sun, 12 – 5pm