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.


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).

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library

Market Square, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2PP
01772 258 248

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Museum & Galleries Galleries open: Monday 11am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm Wednesday 10am-8pm Sunday 11am-4pm Library Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm Wednesday 9am-8pm. Sunday 11am-4pm Café Monday to Saturday 9am - 4.30pm Wednesday 9am - 7.30pm Sunday 11am - 3.30pm

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