J. A. Fitzgerald is one of the most delicate and imaginative of the Victorian Fairy painters. More than any of the other artists working in this genre, he was able to suggest the existence of a coherent alternative world, which was ethereal and bizarre. He exhibited in most of the major London exhibitions from 1845 onwards, showing works at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, the Society of British Artists, the Watercolour Society, and the Dudley Gallery. — Peter Nahum

Fitzgerald’s paintings often depict the fairy world overlapping with our own, separated at times only by the veil of sleep. There are overt references to drugs in his 'dream' pictures, and nowhere more so than in this picture, dating to 1857/8. A red and a yellow bottle stand by the girl's bed, possibly containing opiates. She writhes on the bed, garlanded with flowers and wrapped in a brilliant red sash, surrounded by eerie creatures of the imagination disporting themselves in the moonlight. Often more atmospheric in watercolour than in oil, Fitzgerald was called the 'King of the Fairy Painters.' His pictures are rarely cute, for the sweetness of the subject is often leavened by a healthy dose of the macabre, with vignettes of dissipation and cruelty. — Rupert Mass



Fantastic Illustration and Design in Britain, 1850-1930, exhib. cat. Providence, RI: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1979.

Nahum, Peter. Fairy Folk in Fairy Land. London: Peter Naham at Leicester Galleries, 1997.

Zaczek, Iain. Angels and Fairies. London: Flame Tree Publishing, 2005.

Last modified 11 July 2017