Fairy painting is particularly associated with the Victorian period, art that depicts fairies and other subjects from the supernatural

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  • Henry Fuseli, 'Titania and Bottom' circa 1790
    Henry Fuseli
    Titania and Bottom circa 1790
    Oil on canvas
    support: 2172 x 2756 mm
    frame: 3167 x 2600 x 155 mm
    Presented by Miss Julia Carrick Moore in accordance with the wishes of her sister 1887
  • Richard Dadd, 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke' 1855-64
    Richard Dadd
    The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke 1855-64
    Oil on canvas
    support: 540 x 394 mm
    frame: 670 x 525 x 65 mm
    Presented by Siegfried Sassoon in memory of his friend and fellow officer Julian Dadd, a great-nephew of the artist, and of his two brothers who gave their lives in the First World War 1963
  • John Anster Fitzgerald, 'The Fairy's Lake' ?exhibited 1866
    John Anster Fitzgerald
    The Fairy's Lake ?exhibited 1866
    Oil on board
    support: 152 x 203 mm
    frame: 262 x 325 x 30 mm
    Purchased 1968

A fascination with fairies and the supernatural was a phenomenon of the Victorian age and resulted in a distinctive strand of art depicting fairy subjects drawn from myth and legend and particularly from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Early, pre-Victorian examples are in Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Theodore Von Holst. Later Richard Dadd created keynote paintings, but most consistent and compelling is John Anster Fitzgerald. Richard Doyle also produced notable fairy illustrations. Other contributions came from many painters including Landseer and even Turner. Fairy painting reached its final flowering in the illustrated books of Arthur Rackham around 1900–14.