Blue Flower

In Fairyland, a Series of Pictures from the Elf-World by Richard Doyle

What can be a better way to start a new blog if not with a classic, yet mostly unknown book with huge historical influence? Who could be a better artist to present as first if not a tremendously talented artist who, never being academically trained never fully developed his potential? Yes, I am writing about Fairyland, probably the most typical project by Richard 'Dicky' Doyle and printed by legendary Edmund Evans, one of the godfathers of picture books as they are known today. Doyle and Evans are not the most known names from the so-called golden years, but both influenced hundreds of artists and set standards which stood the test of time being applied even a century after their death.

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Who was Richard Doyle?

Richard was born as one of seven kids to John Doyle, established Irish cartoonist. All his three surviving brothers were talented artists - illustrators as well. We should probably mention at least Charles, born in 1842, more known as the father of one of the most popular writers of all times: Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes.

Humor was always major attribute of Richard Doyle and his pen name Dick Kitcat or his signature of small bird (dickie) standing on RD (his initials). Becoming a member of The Punch, a major satirical newspaper in the world at only 19 years he soon gain reputation and stayed there for seven years until after a series of attacks against roman Catholic Church of which he was a devoted member he left the paper and never worked for any newspaper or magazine for the rest of his life.

His cover, initially made for the sixth issue of Punch, still became one of the signature marks of the magazine and was used for more than one hundred years!

Richard Doyle decided to devote his time to book illustration and water color paintings. His major works are:

The Enchanted Doll by Mark Lemon (1849)

The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin (1851)

The Foreign Tour of Brown, Jones and Robinson by him (1854)

The Newcomes by William Makepace Thackeray (1855)

 

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In Fairyland, illustrated and designed by Doyle with a poem by William Allingham, published 1870 In Fairyland, although a commercial flop (simply too expensive for the market), with two thousand printed copies and only a few sold, is now considered his masterpiece. It consists of 16 color plates presented here:

I.

A rehearsal in Fairy-Land

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II.

The Fairy prince in love

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III.

Flirting

Climbing

Stealing

Reposing

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IV.

Triumphal march of the elf-king

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V.

Cruel elves

A dancing butterfly

The elf-king asleep

The tournament

 

VI.

A race of snails

 

VII.

The fairy queen's messenger

Saying "Bo!" to a beetle

Elf and owls

Teasing a butterfly

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VIII.

A little play, in three acts

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IX.

Dressing the baby-elves

A messenger by moonlight

Rejected!

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X.

Water-lilies and water fairies

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XI.

An evening ride

A serenade

Fairy child's play

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XII.

An intruder

Flying away

Wood elves at play

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XIII.

The fairy queen takes an airy drive

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XIV.

An elfin dance by night

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XV.

Feasting and fun among the fuschsias

Poor little birdie teased

Courtship cut short

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XVI.

Asleep in the moonlight

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All plates are engraved by Edmund Evans and the book was published by Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer in 1870. While the story is written by