The Fairy Tree

Uncle of the more famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Richard Doyle is a British (I promise to try and find someone from outside the UK next time, although it seems the Brits were quite alone in their creepy fascination for fairies…) illustrator. He was born in 1824 in London, and displayed a great passion for fairy stories from a young age. Despite having no training (admittedly, his father was an artist as well, so that must’ve helped), Doyle became moderately famous around the age of 19. He started illustrating different books, including works by Dickens, Ruskin and Thackeray, and spent seven years working for a magazine called Punch (which, if you’re into useless trivia, was the first publication to use “cartoon” with the meaning we know today). He died in 1883, of apoplexy. He was known to his friends as Dicky or Dick Kitcat šŸ™‚
His work is surprisingly good (from a technical, strictly artistic) point of view, considering his lack of any formal education. Its creativity and love of the fantastic are remarkable. His most ambitious project is a watercolour painting named The Fairy Tree, which you can view here at a decent quality, unlike below.

thefairytree

Yet again, the internet has failed to provide me with a date for that, but from what I’ve seen it’s probably from the second half of his life/career. The colours are a bit enhanced in the image above, so that the details are more visible. There are over 200 characters on the branches of the tree, and the relatively central figure with the very large moustache is supposedly the King of the Fairies. Another interesting bit of information is that the image of children (painted in a slightly different manner from the rest of the work) peeking at the fairyworld is a recurrent theme in his works, which I’d link you to if I didn’t want to save them for when it’s October and I’m running out of fairy paintings.

A song which is, I hope, about fairies…

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