Folded World. Fans from the Collections of the Art Museum of Estonia
The historical 18th- to 20th-century fans reveal a whole miniature world, from social life and customs to mythology and politics. The display gives an overview of the diverse collection of fans and related works of art in the museum, providing a great introduction to the position this accessory has held in the history of art and fashion.
Hand Fans – Miniature Works of Art
Hand fans are unique items combining practical, ceremonial and aesthetic functions. Fans have mainly been used for cooling purposes, but they have also played an important part in social etiquette, and the way they were held transmitted very different messages. Superbly decorated fans which display the best quality of workmanship can also be unforgettable works of art. The current exhibition focuses on fans as works of art, showing a wide variety of motifs and techniques and their development over time.
Types of Hand Fans
There are two main types of fans in terms of shape and construction: folding fans and brisé fans. The folding fan consists of a leaf and a set of sticks. The two outer sticks (guards) are a little thicker and protect the fan when it is closed. The brisé fan (French “broken”) does not have a leaf of a different material; it is composed of a set of sticks which are held together by a narrow ribbon at the top and a rivet at the lower end. One other type of hand fan is the fixed or screen fan, which consists of a rigid panel attached to a handle.
Hand Fans in the Art Museum of Estonia Collection
The Art Museum of Estonia hand fan collection is not very large, but it is quite diverse. Almost all types of hand fans in Europe and their motifs of decoration are represented in this collection.
The majority of hand fans in the collection were used in Russia in the 19th and the early 20th centuries. These fans were given to the museum by donors who, by collecting the fans, showed their appreciation for the beauty of these minor works of art.
When the centuries-old objects of delicate material and fragile construction were acquired by the museum, they were badly damaged. A new life was given to them by the conservators of the Conservation Centre Kanut: the current exhibition is also an introduction to Kanut’s work.
The Folded World. Fans from the Collections of the Art Museum of Estonia will remain open until 11 October 2015.
Exhibition curator: Kersti Kuldna-Türkson
Exhibition design: Mari Kurismaa
Catalogue and exhibition graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Fans from private collections have been donated to the museum by Ilse Karring, Aita Jõgi and Leida Paalberg. The museum is grateful for their donations.
Art Museum of Estonia, Head of Collection Management, and exhibition curator
Tel +372 602 6008, 5340 6984
Fan “Nicholas and Alexandra”. Russia, Fabergé workshop (?), 1890s. Art Museum of Estonia