Victorian Fairy Art

Fairy painting originated primarily in nineteenth-century Britain; categorized by its intricate detail and whimsical, fantasy settings, the genre saw the rise of Victorian artists in relation to the desire for escapism. During difficult and hard times for many due to the industrial revolution and urbanization of cities, many Victorians required escapism to look past many of the hardships surrounding their lives, therefore, encouraging the growth of the nineteenth-century fairy art to provide some comfort and escape for many struggling people. Furthermore, the genre has recently experienced a contemporary revival, meaning the elements of fairy painting often still lives on in a modern cultural society. Fairy paintings are often strongly influenced by the Romanticism of literature, such as in Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ or Alexander Pope’s ‘The Rape of the Lock’.

The more famous and popular artist of the genre was Richard Dadd, a suspected schizophrenic. One of his most appreciated and respected works, ’The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke’, was accompanied by a poem which provided historical, literary and mythological context to the characters that he depicted in his work, making the painting popular, due to the strong sense of escapism. Other popular paintings include ‘The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania’ and ‘The Reconciliation of Titania and Oberon’ by Joseph Noel Paton, Edwin Landseer’s ‘Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Ferdinand Lured by Ariel’ by John Everett Millais.

The contemporary revival occurred since the 1970’s due to the interest in fantasy art and literature. Artists such as Amy Brown, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, and James Browne have adapted modern works that mimic the fantasy and escapism present in the original nineteenth-century paintings. Other depictions of fairy paintings have influenced a contemporary incorporation to much of modern culture, including on clothing, ceramics, quilting, and figurines. The newfound growth in popularity may be the result of the New Age Movement, which is a term used to describe the spiritual and religious beliefs and practices developed in Western nations during the 1970’s.

From, The Victorian Blogger


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