Decorated Fans

Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 17th century
Color, ink, and gold on paper
H x W (each): 148 x 336 cm (58 1/4 x 132 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screens (six-panel)

Edo period (1615 - 1868), fan, Japan

To 1897
Yamanaka & Company, New York to 1897 [1]

From 1897 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1897 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Screen List, L. 12, pg. 2, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917 - 1965


Folding screens mounted with scattered fans, each painted on a piece of separate paper, were popular in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, and their production continued into modern times. These screens were appreciated for displaying together a  variety of small paintings in an attractive arrangement to suggest the image of fans floating through the air or on water.

These screens' fans are painted directly over a background of scattered shapes of gold and silver leaf to give the illusion that they are mounted fans. The screens employ mainly flower and plant motifs, some of which have seasonal associations: cherry blossoms with spring; chrysanthemums and red maple leaves with autumn. Other designs are associated with famous sites like Mount Fuji and the Uji Bridge, which are also themes of poetry. Three paintings in monochromatic ink contrast with the gold, silver, and colored images on the other fans and also illustrate the artistic studio's familiarity with themes from Chinese painting. The two fans with striped patterns appear to be related to textile patterns for kimonos. The style of the paintings suggests that they might have been produced by painters of the Kano school, a leading group of professional painters.

Published References
  • Ann McClellan. The Cherry Blossom Festival. Boston. p. 74.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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