France(?), 2nd half 18th century
Leaf: paper, hand coloured etching
sticks: rosewood
length 27cm
Inv. 1888.48.

4134px x 2816px
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The Museum has a collection of around 170 fans, including some with precious fittings or decoration. This one is a curiosity that has a special link with Basle. The portraits in the medallions represent Giuseppe Balsamo, alias Count Alexander Cagliostro (Palermo 1743-1795 Urbino) and his wife Seraphina Feliciani. Cagliostro was an exceptionally charismatic charlatan. During an apprenticeship as an apothecary, he had acquired sufficient knowledge to present himself as a gifted doctor. His scandalous life style forced him to flee Europe after 1768. The scene on the left shows his departure for Asia, while the illustration on the right shows him as a doctor, whose miraculous deeds are praised in the inscription. In the course of his adventurous life, not least as the dubious founder of a freemason's lodge, he had established links with the highest circles; these also led him to Basle. Between 1781 and 1788 he lived some of the time in Riehen bei Basel and then, on the basis of his reputation as a miracle healer, in the Weisses Haus, the city mansion of the silk ribbon manufacturer Jakob Sarasin.

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