Since ancient times, Chinese fans have served many functions, including cooling, air circulation, fashion, and ceremonial purposes. Because of their importance and desirability, great painters have devoted their talent to the decoration of Chinese fans, a tradition originating from at least the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that continues to the present day. The Museum houses a large collection of fan paintings illustrating a range of subject matter including landscapes, bird and flower paintings, and calligraphy.
Many of the Museum’s fan paintings represent work by artists of the Lingnan School of painting. Comprised of a group of painters from the Guangdong region, the school developed a distinctive style and artistic philosophy that greatly influenced Chinese painting throughout the 20th century. Established at a pivotal point in Chinese history, the Lingnan School reflected the impending cultural and political changes associated with the modernization of China. Although political and social revolutionaries, Lingnan artists found inspiration in past schools and artists and sought to combine traditional Chinese painting with modern, Western styles. By encouraging students to paint using a variety of brushstroke methods, atmospheric effects, and untraditional compositions, the Lignan School established a new national style of painting.
To see all of the Museum's Chinese fan paintings, please click here.