Unfolding Pictures: Fans in The Royal Collection

The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse

Friday, 9 December 2005 to Monday, 29 May 2006

‘I cool, I refresh, and I can keep secrets’. These words, incorporated into the design of a fan presented to Queen Alexandra, perfectly encapsulate the role of the fan as both practical and social accessory. This first ever exhibition of fans from the Royal Collection brings together over 80 examples from the early 17th century to the 1930s.  All were acquired by, created for or given to their royal owners and are therefore among the finest fans in existence. They have been used at weddings, christenings and coronations, and have passed down through the royal family over the centuries.  

Among the highlights of the exhibition are a leather fan from around 1600, said to have belonged to Charles I; fans by Duvelleroy and Félix Alexandre of Paris, the finest 19th-century fan-makers; three fans by Carl Fabergé, including one purchased by the Tsarina for her sister Queen Alexandra; two dolls’ fans painted by Marie Laurençin; and a vast ostrich feather fan, presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers at the time of the Coronation in 1937.

Explore the exhibition