Theodor von Holst

The Fairy Lovers


In Tate Britain

Theodor von Holst 1810–1844
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 413 × 311 mm
frame: 537 × 437 × 80 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

Here Oberon and Titania, fairy lovers from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, are shown dancing under the light of the moon. The fairies’ tip-toe steps, flower and insect wing headdresses, dancing drapery and an eerie light create a magical effect.

Gallery label, October 2020

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Catalogue entry

Theodore von Hoist 1810–1844

T01518 The Fairy Lovers c.1840

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 16¼ x 12¼ (41 x 31).
Purchased at Christie’s (Gytha Trust) 1972.
Coll: Rev. George Cuff, sold Fawkham Rectory, Kent, 9 February 1887, bt. John Ames; by descent to M.Ames, sold Christie’s, 18 February 1972 (283), bt. Agnew’s for the Tate Gallery.

This picture was sold at Christie’s together with Hoist’s ‘A milkmaid and her lover’ (284), also from the collection of the Reverend George Cuff, but painted on board and a bit larger, 19½ x 14 in.; the two pictures of lovers do not therefore seem to have been conceived as pendants.

An identification with Titania and Oberon, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is possible.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.

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