Victorian Fairy Painting was a phenomenon suited to its time. From the whimsical to the macabre, the nineteenth-century public evinced a great appetite for make-believe. Building upon their Gothic inheritance, mid ninteenth-century artists such as John Anster Fitzgerald and Robert Huskisson introduced a creed of naturalism which became key to the Victorian interpretation of this aesthetic.
Etheline E. Dell was an illustrator and genre painter based in New Malden, Surrey, who worked in both oil and watercolour. Her fairies are immediately recognisable: strange and luminous beings, they are often unclothed and of benign and dreamy aspect. In this painting their poses are natural rather than theatrical; her fairies lie langourously or sit huddled together, in conversation or deep in thought.