Fairy Art

The interest in fairies reached its peak during the Victorian period, around 1837 to 1901, the Victorians were helplessly captivated by them as shown by the countless fairy themed works of art that saturated their culture from paintings, poems, and literature, to music, dance, and plays.

Pre-Victorian works by artists such as William Blake and Henry Fuseli first appeared around 1780 and laid the groundwork for later images created by Richard Dadd, John Anster Fitzgerald, Daniel Maclise, and others.

Click images to enlarge.


These works were often inspired by theater, literature, and poetry, but also by drugs, spiritualism, and madness.

The fairy paintings of this age, for the most part, appear in the style of the Pre-Raphaelites. They were depicted as tiny magical creatures that represented escape from the stress and anxiety of daily life in an industrial society and a return to simpler times.

Fairies, being fantasy creatures, allowed for the safe exploration of ideas and subjects that were repressed in Victorian times. Fairy painting not only freed artists to explore nudity, it freed them to explore the imagination, with imaginary subjects artists could experiment with distortion and exaggerated realism.

In addition to dreamy worlds, flowers, and tiny lovely women with insect wings, there were also nightmarish scenes depicting the darker side of fairyland with grotesque forms and monstrous creatures doing devilish things.

Fairies continued to be popular subject matter even after 1900, with artists such as Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham. These works of art as well as new works in this area continue to be popular to the present day. Scroll down to find information and images by notable contemporary artists working in this genre.

Famous Fairy Artists

Barker, Cicely Mary
Dadd, Richard
Rackham, Arthur

See also: Angels, Fantasy, Mermaids, Paranormal

Victorian Fairy Painting and Fantasy Art
Includes an overview of with a list of nineteenth and twentieth century artists with biographies and art images.

Endicott Studio: Online Exhibitions
  Portrait Painter to the Fairies: Brian Froud
  Victorian Fairy Paintings
  The Fairy Sketchbooks

ArtMagick: Fairy Painting
A small collection of images that includes paintings by John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Doyle, John Atkinson Grimshaw, and others. See also: Fairies: a larger selection of images.

V&A: A Fairyland of Flowers
An introduction to the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and Cicely Mary Barker presented by the Victoria & Albert Museum.

NYPL: Fairies
An online collection of around 94 images in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Information about the origins and influences of fairy painting and the modern revival, also includes several images and references.
About using Wikipedia as an Academic Resource

Notable Contemporary Artists

World of Froud
The Froud family website, includes images and information about their artwork, books, and events.

David Delamare
Fine art prints and greeting cards created from original illustrations.

Selina Fenech Artworks
Spiritual and whimsical fantasy watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media paintings.

Amy Brown
Original watercolor paintings, sketches, prints, and ink drawings.

Linda Ravenscroft
Original watercolors, tarot cards, and figurines.

Howard David Johnson
Realistic paintings of Celtic, Shakespearean, and Victorian figures.

Ashwood Arts
Goddesses, witches and more by fantasy artist Brigid Ashwood. Prints, shirts, mugs, tiles, drums, jewelry and other items for sale.

Gossamerfaery's Attic
Gothic style work created by Misty Benson.

Strangeling: The Art of Jasmine Becket-Griffith
Colorful gothic style art prints and original paintings for sale.
Note cards by Linda Biggs.

References & Suggested Reading

Bown, Nicola. Fairies in Nineteenth-century Art and Literature. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Croft, Janet Brennan (ed.). Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language. US: McFarland & Company, 2007.

Silver, Carole G. Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness. US: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Image Credits (in order of appearance)

Dadd, Richard. (1817 - 1886). Puck (detail), 1841. Oil on canvas, 59.2 x 59.2 cm. Harris Museum.

Fitzgerald, John Anster. British, (1823 - 1906). Fairy Hordes Attacking A Bat. Watercolour with gouache, 54 x 35.5 cm. Private collection.

Maclise, Daniel. (1806 - 1870). Pan and the Dancing Fairies (The Faun and the Fairies), c. 1834. Oil on panel, oval, 41 by 35.5 cm.

Grimshaw, John Atkinson. British, (1836 - 1893). Spirit of the Night, 1879. Private collection.

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