Richard Dadd is synonymous with the Victorian genre of fairy painting which flourished during the 1840s – 1870s.

This work is his very first example of fairy painting and was exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1841. It established Dadd’s reputation as a leading artist of the day. The painting depicts Puck, a central character from William Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', sitting on a toadstool while smaller fairy figures dance around him in moonlight. Dadd succumbed to mental illness in 1843 and murdered his father after which he was incarcerated for life. Although he continued to paint, he only ever finished about twelve fairy oil paintings. This is the first example of the ‘fairy’ genre and enhances the Harris’ collection of Victorian paintings.

Provenance

Henry Farrer; Major Thomas Birchall of Preston, by 1857; by descent; John Rickett, 1964; J. S. Maas and Co, London; Sir David Scott, 1975; by descent to Lady Scott; Finnis Scott Foundation, 2006; Sotheby’s, 2008 (unsold).


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