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Omphale and Hercules
Omphale and Hercules
Omphale and Hercules
Omphale and Hercules
Omphale and Hercules
Omphale and Hercules

Image credit: Rhian Cox / The Fan Museum

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Folding fan, the sticks and guards richly carved and gilt with heart shapes and Classical figures in the gorge (the term used to describe the central area of the sticks directly below the leaf). The leaf is painted on the recto with the myth of Hercules and the Lydian Queen, Omphale. According to legend, Hercules was enslaved to Omphale as a punishment for inadvertently murdering prince Iphitus. In an act of gender role reversal designed to further humiliate the heroic warrior, Omphale ordered that Hercules wear women’s clothing and assist her maidens with the spinning of yarn. The composition decorating the fan shows exactly this scene with Omphale having taken for herself Hercules’ club (a symbol of his prowess) and attire.

The Fan Museum



Omphale and Hercules




mother of pearl, gouache & watercolour on paper with sequins


H 27 x W (?) cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased privately by the owner, Mrs H. E. Alexander

Work type



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The Fan Museum

12 Crooms Hill, London, Greater London SE10 8ER England

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