Urgent Museum Notice

The Fan

Close up of The Fan

Bronze sculpture of a standing woman gazing over her right shoulder, holding a fan by her side. She wears a long, loose gown that gathers at her feet, with her hair swept off her neck. Her left hand holds a flower by her bust.

Bessie Potter Vonnoh, The Fan, 1910; Silvered bronze, 11 3/8 x 4 x 6 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The Fan
Bessie Potter Vonnoh

Although Bessie Potter Vonnoh rendered numerous large-scale public sculptures in her lifetime, it was her small sculptures of middle-class domestic harmony that were particularly popular with contemporaries.

The Fan functions as a study in contrasts. The woman’s gossamer gown flows into vertical striations that suggest a fluted column, emphasizing the figure’s reserved mien and static pose. At the same time, those grooves create a dynamic, flickering surface and provide a sense of rhythmic movement around the figure.

Drawing on influences ranging from Tanagra terra cotta figures of ancient Greece to the domestic scenes rendered by Mary Cassatt and Auguste Renoir, Vonnoh shaped a style and subject matter distinctively her own. Despite care and deliberation in rendering her subjects, Vonnoh managed to give the impression of spontaneity, which added to her sculptures’ appeal.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Bessie Potter Vonnoh
  • Title

    The Fan
  • Date

  • Medium

    Silvered bronze
  • Dimensions

    11 3/8 x 4 1/4 x 4 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display