Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund
As trade with East Asia increased in the late 1600s, European artists adapted Asian motifs and forms in a style known as chinoiserie. These semicircular French designs depicting an imagined Asian court would have been pleated and attached to ribs to make folding fans, a Japanese form.
To the left, groups of elaborately dressed figures inhabit a sumptuously decorated space, seemingly engaged in the rituals of courtly life. At the right, the group in the center plays a game, which is emulated by a group of monkeys, while others look on. The artist made notes about court protocol on these fan designs, suggesting that they could refer to a specific event. This may have been a visit to Versailles in 1686 by the ambassadors of Siam (now Thailand). [see also 1994.036.2]