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The Fitzwilliam's collection


Sasakawa Fan Gallery

The Sasakawa Fan Gallery, Fitzwilliam Museum


The Fitzwilliam's collection includes all the major types of fan. It comprises over 800 items, including fans, unmounted fan leaves, and fan cases from Europe and Asia. The collection was begun in 1836, but the Fan Gallery was not created until 1987 through the generosity of the Trustees of the Great Britain-Sasakawa Foundation, the Museums and Galleries Commission, and many others who contributed to the Fitzwilliam Museum Trust's appeal. Two years earlier, the Museum had purchased the famous Messel fan collection with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a substantial contribution from the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Colonel Leonard C.R. Messel (1872-1953) was an avid gardener, art connoisseur and, from about 1905, fan enthusiast. In 1920 he served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. As can be seen in the Fan Gallery, where approximately one hundred fans are displayed, Messel collected a wide variety of fans from a host of different countries, clearly intrigued by the sense of history and the artistic sensibilities these elegant devices represent. After his death the collection was inherited by his daughter, Anne, Countess of Rosse (1902-92), and at her request it was named 'The Messel-Rosse Fan Collection' when it found a final home in the Fitzwilliam.


link to Fitzwilliam Museum's gallery guide & floor plan   The Sasakawa Fan Gallery