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The Messel Standing Feather Fan

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The Messel Standing Feather Fan


Unknown (maker)


Messel-Rosse Collection




screen fan


Woven gut panels mounted on concealed frames, decorated with feathers of the purple-breasted cotinga (cotinga amabilis) and other birds; stick of turned wood. The fan is composed of five separate sections of drawn thread work on concealed frames. The frames are covered with feathers in bands of different colours and there is a border to each section of more feathers. The central scenes of flowers and birds are composed of feathers and stitched into place on applied fabric grounds and are different on each side. The whole is mounted on a turned, wooden handle.

Production Notes

Place of manufacture and assembly uncertain; the leaf was probably made in South America or Central America whilst the handle is probably European, possibly either English or Dutch.

The blue and purple feathers match those of the purple-breasted cotinga (cotinga amabilis), found in Brazil, the Guyanas and Surinam. Although not identical, the bird forming part of the decoration on this side of the fan may have been intended to represent that cotinga. The other feathers have yet to be identied, but may come from members of the same species.

Production Place

South America (leaf) (continent) ()

Europe (handle) (continent) ()


height: (whole): 34.0 cm
width: (whole): 23.0 cm
height: (case): 40.0 cm
width: (case): 32.0 cm


second half of 17th century


circa 1665


bought: Anne, Countess of Rosse 1985-01-28 (Filtered for: Applied Arts collection)

Colonel Leonard Messel (d. 1953); Anne, Countess of Rosse (d. 1992)

Purchased with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a gift from the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


  1. Armstrong, Nancy (1985) Fans from the Fitzwilliam. A Selection from the Messel-Rosse Collection, Cambridge (Cambs.): Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprises Ltd [page: pl. 1]
    [comments: Publ.]
  2. Armstrong, Nancy (1974) A Collector's History of Fans, London: London Studio Vista [page: 156]
    [comments: Publ., p. 156, pl. 104]
  3. Hughes, Therle Fantasy in Plume and Parchment, European Fans from the Leonard Messel Collection, [page: 1457]
    Source title: Country Life (8 June 1972)
    [comments: Publ., p. 1457, fig. 6]
  4. Armstrong, Nancy The Art of the Fan, [page: 47]
    Source title: The Antique Collector (December 1985)
    [comments: Publ.]
  5. Gostelow, Mary (1976) The Fan, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan [page: 15] 1976)
    [comments: Publ., p. 15, fig. 19]
  6. Thornton, Peter K. Une des plus belles collections d'eventails du monde, [page: 95]
    Source title: Connaissance des Arts (April 1963)
    [comments: Publ.]
  7. Catalani, Carla (1966) Waaiers, Bussum, Holland: C.A.J. van Dishoeck [page: pl. 8] 1966)
    [comments: Publ.]
  8. Woolliscroft Rhead, G. (1910) The History of the Fan, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner [page: 101]
    [comments: Publ.]
  9. Crommelin, Rosemary A Flutter of Fans, [page: 36]
    Source title: Holly Leaves (December 1963)
    [comments: Publ.]
  10. Armstrong, Nancy Unique Feather Fan, [page: 78-82]
    Source title: Antique Collector (March 1987)
    [comments: Publ.]
  11. Armstrong, Nancy Three Very Inportant Feather Fans: The Westrow Mexican-Indian Feather-Mosaic Fan, The Messel Fan and the 19th Century One, [page: pl. 4]
    Source title: Fans, The Bulletin of the Fan Circle International (Autumn 1986)
    [comments: Publ.]
  12. Johnson, Colin Feathers Fashion Fans, [page: 16]
    Source title: FANA Quarterly (Fall 1999)
    [comments: Publ.]
  13. Haye, Amy de la (2005) A Family of Fashion, The Messels: Six Generations of Dress, London: Philip Wilson Publishers [page: 73, 75]
    [comments: Publ. p. 73, mentioned and p. 75, pl. 34, as English or Dutch, c. 1665.]

Other Notes

Accession Number

M.358-1985 (Applied Arts)
(Reference Number: 117942; Input Date: 2004-12-07 / Last Edit: 2011-07-22)

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