A Dreamlike Fairy Piece

Estella Louisa Michaela Canziani was a painter and illustrator born in London in 1887. Her mother, Louisa Starr, was also a painter, though in a much more conventional mode, and I prefer the daughter’s work to the mother’s. Canziani tended towards supernatural themes, particularly fairies, and religious themes. Both thematically and stylistically her work fits well into the Symbolist tradition, although at the tail end of it. Here we have one of her loveliest and most memorable paintings. As a knight holding a newborn infant bends down to baptize or wash the child, fairies suddenly emerge from the brook to offer the babe their blessings. I searched the web for a larger version of this image but was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, I’ll keep looking.

Estella Canziani – Fairies Bless the Newborn Child (1923)

 

A Little Fairy Postcard

I was sorting some of my art files today and spotted this little fairy postcard. I do not know the artist. One thing I noticed about the little girl is that the artist really feminized her, giving her small breasts and dainty hands and feet. Very Victorian. The background also appears to have been influenced by Asian art.

Artist Unknown – Fairy Postcard

More Than a Fairy Artist: Margaret Tarrant

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) was born in Battersea, England, on 19th August, 1888. She was the only child of Percy Tarrant, who was a famous landscape painter, and Sarah Wyatt.

There are no detailed biographies about the artist, despite her fame and prolific output, though we do know that she started her studies at Clapham High School and after graduating in 1905, continued her education at the Clapham School of Art. She briefly studied teaching, however her father believed she was unsuited to this profession and redirected her attention towards painting. Once established as an artist she studied at Heatherley’s School of Art from 1918 till 1923, as she believed a new school would improve her technique.

Margaret Tarrant - (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant – (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant - Dream Ships (date unknown)

Margaret Tarrant – Dream Ships (date unknown)

Tarrant’s first published works were Christmas cards and in 1908 she illustrated her first book, an edition of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. The following year she created a series of paintings that were published as postcards by C.W. Faulkner. Over the next decade the artist continued to paint for various postcard publishers and also made illustrations for several books. Many of these works were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Walker Royal Society of Artists and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Margaret Tarrant - Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant – Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant - Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

During the 1920s fairies became popularised, helped by the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book Do You Believe in Fairies? and Tarrant was a major part of this scene. During this decade she collaborated with Marion St. John Webb on a series of fairy books, which displayed images of fairies along with short stories and poems. The books were similar to Cecily Mary Barker’s, both artists were friends, however they differed as Tarrant’s pictures were less naturalistic, more stylised and in the Art Nouveau style. Fairy stories were not the only type of paintings that the artist produced, she also created illustrations for children’s stories, books about animals, poems and verses. Additionally, she created a series of wild flower postcards, that she considered to be her best work, and religious themes appeared often. Many examples of her religious paintings can be found in this Flickr album.

Margaret Tarrant - Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

After 1920 the artist was working almost exclusively for the Medici Society, who turned her paintings into postcards, calendars, greeting cards and prints. In 1936 the Society sent her on a holiday to Palestine where she enjoyed sketching landscapes and street scenes, two subjects that she rarely painted prior to this trip.

Margaret Tarrant - The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

During the 1940s Tarrant slowed her output, though she did donate a lot of paintings to the war effort and produced images for about six books. With her health and eyesight deteriorating she stopped working in the mid-1950s and died from Multiple Myeloma in July 1959, leaving some pictures to friends and the rest of her estate to twelve charities.

The artist worked in many media, including pen, watercolor, graphite and silhouette type drawings. Her work is still popular today and the Medici Society is still selling prints on it’s website.

Random Image: John Philip Wagner

A reader just shared this sensuous image of fairies.  For some reason there is a transposed version and I am told this one has the correct orientation.

John Philip Wagner - Fairy Sandcastles (Date Unknown)

John Philip Wagner – Fairy Sandcastles (Date Unknown)

John Philip Wagner was born in Philadelphia in 1943, got his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the Philadelphia College of Art and his Masters at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He also studied with David Hare and Dennis Leon. As a child, he plastered the walls of his elementary school with paintings of Egyptian pyramids and Roman ships and later studied the theater arts, painting, sculpture and printmaking. He resides in the American Southwest, having lived in New Mexico and then southern Colorado, adding Native American and Southwestern Art to his repertoire. While in Santa Fe, he created the first version of the puppet theater known as “Wagner Marionettes”. Since then, he spent much time entertaining children with his little players on string. In 2005, he was charged with sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl, claiming that he touched her buttocks. Found on his computer were nude photos of the girl the artist says were used for reference. The mother denies giving her consent for these photographs. There is no information about a hearing or trial but, presumably, he agreed to a plea bargain as he was required to register as a sex offender. He no longer has his own website and sells his beautiful art through CafePress. Categories of interest include Fairy Art and Angel Art.

A Little Girl’s Guide to Personality: Avril Podmore

Among the items in Stuart’s extensive private collection are items that were never published, but are nonetheless interesting. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to publish things like this that would ordinarily never see the light of day.

This little book of drawings was made by a little girl from the ages of 8 to 10. There were a total of 30 images in the book, but these were a few of the interesting examples sent to me. It is so touching to see a young person putting so much effort into something like this.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (Title Page) (1920--1922)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (Title Page) (1920–1922)

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (1)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (1)

It is remarkable how easily a child assimilates the stereotypes of her culture. This would be considered politically incorrect today and there is some speculation that this particular stereotype was, in part, devised to keep Black people “in their place”.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (2)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (2)

Another personality type that I’m sure many girls can relate to is this compulsively proper type. Sure, she seems to miss out on all the fun but what’s worse: she tends to grow up and make life miserable for everyone else.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (3)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (3)

And even in the dreary winter, a girl can use fantasy to make things more cheery.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (4)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (4)

If a more suitable dance partner is not available, Teddy will do.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (5)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (5)

Creator of the Flower Fairies: Cicely Mary Barker

Cicely Mary Barker (1895–1973) was born on 28 June, 1895 in Croyden, England, to Walter Barker and Mary Eleanor Barker. As a child she suffered from epilepsy so her parents thought it would be safer for her to be home-schooled by a governess. She spent a lot of her time drawing and painting and her father decided to pay for a correspondence course in art which she continued until at least 1919. He also enrolled her in evening classes with the Croyden School of Art in 1908, which she attended until the 1940s and eventually became a teacher there.

Cicely’s parents noticed the quality of her drawings—that they might be good enough for publishing—so they took examples to publishers and printers. The artist’s first published works appeared in 1911 when Raphael Tuck, the printer, bought four drawings and turned them into postcards. In October 1911 she won second prize in a poster competition run by the Croydon Art Society, and shortly after was elected the youngest member of the Society.

After her father’s untimely death in 1912, her older sister, Dorothy, tried to support the family by teaching in private schools then opening a kindergarten at home. The artist also contributed to the finances of her family by selling poetry and illustrations to magazines such as My Magazine, Child’s Own and Raphael Tuck annuals. Additionally, she exhibited and sold work at the Croydon Art Society and at the Royal Institute. She also designed postcards for various printing firms.

Cicely Mary Barker - Because He Came... (date unknown)

Cicely Mary Barker – Because He Came… (date unknown)

After approaching several publishers. Cicely’s first book was accepted by Blackie and published in 1923. Entitled Flower Fairies of the Spring, the book contained watercolour paintings with pen and ink outlines of fairies situated in idyllic settings with each image accompanied by a small song. As fairies were popular at this time the book sold well and also received many positive reviews, consequently over the next thirty-two years another nine flower fairy books were produced.

Cicely Mary Barker - A Flower Fairy Alphabet (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – A Flower Fairy Alphabet (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker - Flower Fairies of the Wayside (1948)

Cicely Mary Barker – Flower Fairies of the Wayside (1948)

Though she is most often remembered for her flower fairies, they are far from the only books she produced. During the 1920s the artist also created images and wrote some of the songs for several books of songs and verse.

Cicely Mary Barker - Old Rhymes For All Times (1928)

Cicely Mary Barker – Old Rhymes For All Times (1928)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Children’s Book of Hymns (1929)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Children’s Book of Hymns (1929)

She was also an author of three stories with the first, The Lord of the Rushie River, published in 1938. As the book sold well, Blackie requested that she write another and Groundsel and Necklaces was published in 1946 and later renamed Fairy Necklaces when it was re-released in 1991. The third book she wrote was Simon the Swan which was completed in 1953, however Blackie ignored the book and it was not until 1988, fifteen years after the author death, that it got published. The paintings in these three stories differed from the flower fairy images as they were painted with either pastel or oil paint.

Cicely Mary Barker - Groundsel and Necklaces (1946)

Cicely Mary Barker – Groundsel and Necklaces (1946)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Lord of the Rushie River (1938)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Lord of the Rushie River (1938)

The artist was a devout Christian and produced many illustrations for Christian themed books and postcards. She also donated works to churches either for resale or display and I am showing one of her most recognised paintings The Parable of the Great Supper produced for St. George’s Church, Waddon.

Cicely Mary Barker - The Parable of the Great Supper (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Parable of the Great Supper (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Parable of the Great Supper detail (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Parable of the Great Supper detail (1934)

The painting that hangs in the church is a triptych. The larger centre panel is entitled ‘The Great Supper’ and illustrates one of Jesus’ parables where ordinary people are brought in from the highways and byways to share in a great king’s feast, symbolising the inclusive spirit of Christianity. The two smaller side panels show St John the Baptist and Saint George.

The artist’s work slowed down in the 1950s, as she was teaching art at this time, then in 1954 her sister died so she became solely responsible for the care of her mother. The royalties from her books largely supported their life and occasionally she would do portrait commissions for extra money. When her mother died in 1960 Cicely’s health started to fail and she passed away in 1973.

Cicely Mary Barker - Portrait of Ianthe Barker (1951)

Cicely Mary Barker – Portrait of Ianthe Barker (1951)

Cicely Mary Barker - He Leadeth Me (1936)

Cicely Mary Barker – He Leadeth Me (1936)

Cicely Mary Barker - Flower Fairies of the Trees (1940)

Cicely Mary Barker – Flower Fairies of the Trees (1940)

The artist’s style was largely influenced by Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott as their books were popular during her childhood so she would have spent a lot of time reading them. She was also influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites Sir John Everett Millais and Edward Burne-Jones. She admired them as they painted directly from nature and they could depict flora and fauna with near exactitude. The artist achieved her own botanical accuracy by referring to botanical books or having staff from Kew Gardens bring her specimens to paint. All the people featured in her images were real and were sourced from her sister’s kindergarten or were local villagers. She also had a habit of carrying a sketchbook with her and would quickly sketch any interesting child she saw while in public places. The costumes that the children wear were also created by her and after the painting was completed the fabric was recycled into new costumes.

In 1989, Frederick Warne, a division of Penguin Books, acquired the Flower Fairies properties and turned it into the commercial behemoth it is today. Half of the artist’s books were re-released in the 1980s and ’90s and you can buy flower fairy quilts, linen, fabric, stationary, figurines and many other products.

If you would like to see some of her religious works there are some images in this Flickr account and two articles, one at The Croydon Citizen and another at the Inside Croyden Blog.

Sprite in a Veil

These postcards are from Stuart’s collection.  The nice thing about his collection is that it was acquired decades ago and so many of the items would be hard to come by in today’s secondary market.  A single piece that might be found on a sales site today may actually have belonged to a photographic series and so it is a delight to give our readers a fuller picture rather than a single image out of context.  These postcards were probably produced just after the turn of the last century.

The setting suggests a classical child of nature or a nymph, but with a veil that satisfies the English sense of propriety.

Untitled-1-PiP Untitled-2-PiP Untitled-6-PiP Untitled-7-PiP

The Welsh Pixie: Pixie O’Harris

Pixie O’Harris MBE (1903–1991) was born Rhona Olive Harris in Cardiff, Wales. She was the sixth of nine children born to portraitist George Frederick Harris and Rosetta Elizabeth Harris (née Lucas). It was her father, who was chairman of the Art Society of South Wales and a frequent exhibitor at both the Royal Academy and Walker Art Gallery, that encouraged her and her siblings to take up art as a hobby. The artist became a member of the Royal Art Society of South Wales and started to exhibit her work there from the age of fourteen. At the time, she was still signing with her birth name of Rhona Harris.

Rhona O. Harris - (Untitled Illustration) (1919)

Rhona O. Harris – (Untitled Illustration) (1919)

The artist’s family emigrated to Australia in 1920 and while en route to Perth she was frequently called “The Welsh Pixie.” Having a dislike for the name Rhona and thinking that a new name would go well with a new life, she changed her name to Pixie O. Harris. After arriving in Perth, she found temporary employment in an advertising agency colouring slides and drawing fashions. During her spare time, she continued to draw and took some drawings to local art galleries. The Perth Royal Art Society recognised her talent and allowed her to hang some of her drawings in the gallery.

After only six months in Perth, the family relocated to Maroubra, in Sydney, by which time the artist had amassed a large number of drawings. She took her drawings to the editor of the Sydney Mail magazine, produced by the Sydney Morning Herald, who paid forty pounds for thirty of the images.  Reportedly, a printer at the magazine saw the artist’s signature and mentioned, “You can’t have a name like that without an apostrophe after the O.”  The printer then added the apostrophe and Pixie O. Harris became Pixie O’Harris. While on a trip to Sydney she became friendly with a man whose father had contacts with people working at John Sands, a printing firm. The firm liked her drawings, hired her and she started producing advertisements. In order to improve her artistic skill, her employers decided to send her to the Julian Ashton Art School, paying her tuition. During this time she was also producing book plates.

After a year at this job, O’Harris quit and joined her father at his studio. As she was now well known, she freelanced for various magazines including The Triad, Green Room and The Bulletin. She also drew illustrations for theatre programs, comics for joke blocks and continued to accept commissions for advertisements.

Pixie O'Harris - Advertisement for OK Pure Jam (1923)

Pixie O’Harris – Advertisement for OK Pure Jam (1923)

Her first assignment to illustrate a book was Cinderella’s Party by Maud Renner, published by Rigby in 1922 for which she was paid two guineas per image. Two years later she was asked to illustrate The Lost Emerald by Agnes Littlejohn.

Pixie O'Harris - Cinderella's Party (1922)

Pixie O’Harris – Cinderella’s Party (1922)

Her father’s death in 1924 had such an unsettling effect on the artist that she decided to leave the city and ended up in the Burragorang Valley. There the artist spent many days perfecting her skills at drawing flora and fauna.

Pixie O'Harris - Pixie O'Harris Story Book (1940)

Pixie O’Harris – Pixie O’Harris Story Book (1940)

Upon returning to Sydney, the editor of The Triad commissioned her to caricature well-known personalities which took up most of the year and became some of her most recognised work.

In 1925 the artist published The Pixie O’Harris Fairy Book which was a book of short stories and verses interspersed with illustrations which became one of her most popular books.

po'h fairy book

Pixie O’Harris – Pixie O’Harris Fairy Book (1925) (1)

Pixie O'Harris - Pixie O'Harris Fairy Book (1925) (2)

Pixie O’Harris – Pixie O’Harris Fairy Book (1925) (2)

After finishing her work on the book, she continued her freelance work at The Triad where she drew images for the children’s pages as well as an occasional cover. However, the artist believed this position lacked security and decided to become a fashion artist for the Horden Brothers Department Store. She developed a different drawing style at that job and it helped refine her drawing of adults.  Prior to this, a lot of her images featured children or toddlers so some of the adults ended up with a childlike appearance. She continued with this job for three years.  It was during this period that she met a wool buyer named Bruce Pratt and married in 1928, initially quitting her jobs to stay at home. She subsequently gave birth to three daughters.

During the Depression in Australia, she rented an office in the city and set up an art studio. Her sister, Pat, was employed as her errand girl and occasionally collaborated with her on contracts. The enterprise prospered and soon the artist was working for the Woman’s Weekly and New Nation magazines. All the while she was still doing fashion work for Horden Brothers. Also notable during this period were the several colour covers produced for Woman’s Budget magazine and the caricature-based drawings for their series “Pictures of the Near Great” published weekly.

Pixie O'Harris - Woman's Budget (Cover) (1933)

Pixie O’Harris – Woman’s Budget (Cover) (1933)

With all these commissions coming in, O’Harris’ artistic ability became a mainstay in the commercial arts. In 1934 she received another commission to illustrate her fourth book, Hundreds and Thousands by Ruth Bedford. She enjoyed this work and so started work on the book Pearl Pixie and Sea Greenie (1935), a story about two rock sprites. The book sold well and was reprinted four times.

Pixie O'Harris - Pearl Pixie and Sea Greenie (1935) (1)

Pixie O’Harris – Pearl Pixie and Sea Greenie (1935) (1)

Pixie O'Harris - Pearl Pixie and Sea Greenie (1935) (2)

Pixie O’Harris – Pearl Pixie and Sea Greenie (1935) (2)

The success of this book drew the attention of other publishers and she spent most of the next year drawing images for four other books, all coming out in 1936. There is scant information about O’Harris’ life after this point. There were only two books featuring her work in the period between 1938 and 1939. The most likely reason she was kept occupied editing for Humour magazine. While lying in the hospital ward during the birth of her third child in 1939, she came up with the idea of painting hospital walls with murals. The joy of decorating the walls of children’s wards, baby health centres and schools continued for forty years and must have created the largest body of public works in Australia with over forty institutes decorated.

In addition to painting murals—in the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children—four books illustrated by the artist were published in 1940. One of these books, The Pixie O’Harris Story Book, was also written. The Adventures of Poppy Treloar was published in 1941 and is significant in that it was a story specifically for girls. At this time there were few books for girls and with three daughters, the artist noticed this shortcoming and filled the gap with three Poppy Treloar books. A fourth book was added 22 years later when the publishers, Paul Hamlyn, decided to release the books in a box set. In 1943 she started another book series about a possum named Marmaduke. The first book was Marmaduke the Possum, with an additional two following. Marmaduke became a play in 1960; the producer was Julie Simpson who read the book as a child and was so entranced by it that she became determined to produce it as a play. Julie found O’Harris who agreed with her ideas. Within a few weeks the artist had written the whole play, designed the costumes, masks and the backdrops. The play ran for five weeks during the Christmas holiday period of 1960/61. She wrote a second play in 1979 called The Queen of Hearts, Paddy and The Moon Lady.

Pixie O'Harris - Marmaduke and Margaret (1953)

Pixie O’Harris – Marmaduke and Margaret (1953)

Another important book written by O’Harris was The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly. The book became very popular and was reprinted five times.

Pixie O'Harris - The Fairy Who Wouldn't Fly (Cover) (1945)

Pixie O’Harris – The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly (Cover) (1945)

Pixie O'Harris - The Fairy Who Wouldn't Fly (1945)

Pixie O’Harris – The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly (1945)

From 1950 through to 1970 she focused on her mural work as well as writing short stories, poems and then making the images to go with them for School Magazine. When not doing this work she took up oil painting and accumulated such a quantity that she was able to exhibit them yearly from 1964 onward. Her paintings depicted plants, flowers, fairies and other mythological beings.

A resurgence of interest in her work took place in the 1970s as three of her books were republished. This renewed interest led to Golden Books Publishing giving her contracts to write eight more books for them between 1978 and 1982. The books were cheaply produced so do not show her work to a very high quality, though the consumers did not care and large numbers were nonetheless sold. During the 1980s, two biographies were published and she also illustrated an edition of Wind in the Willows. 

Her final commission came in 1990. The book was Alice in Wonderland, also known as The Pixie Alice, published by The Carroll Foundation. It was part of the 125th anniversary of the publishing of the original Macmillan publication. The book itself was designed to be a colouring book. The complete text to the original story was there with fourteen simply-drawn black and white illustrations.

Pixie O'Harris - Alice in Wonderland (Cover) (1990)

Pixie O’Harris – Alice in Wonderland (Cover) (1990)

Pixie O'Harris - Alice in Wonderland (1990)

Pixie O’Harris – Alice in Wonderland (1990)

A year later in 1991 Pixie O’Harris passed away. In 1994 the Children’s Publishing Committee of the Australian Publishers’ Association (APA) established the Pixie O’Harris Award. It is awarded for distinguished and dedicated service to the development and reputation of Australian children’s books. The guidelines state that:

To be eligible, publishers, editors, booksellers and publicists need to have worked consistently in children’s literature, demonstrated a commitment beyond the call of duty and developed a reputation for their contribution to the industry. -APA

In recognition for her work in the arts as well as the painting of murals for children, O’Harris received several awards, a Coronation Medal, a Jubilee Medal and became a Member of the British Empire in 1976. She was made a Patron of The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1977.

Pixie O'Harris - The Little Round House (1939)

Pixie O’Harris – The Little Round House (1939)

The house that Beckons

Pixie O’Harris – The House that Beckons (1940)

The Mother of Australian Fairies: Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888–1960) was an illustrator born in Melbourne, Australia. She was a self-taught artist, as her parents believed that art training would ruin her individual style. She attended the Presbyterian College of East Melbourne and it was there that her artistic pursuits started as she spent her lessons drawing in the margins of her books.

Ida Rentoul - Sketch from her school book (Date Unknown)

Ida Rentoul – Sketch from her school book (Date Unknown)

Ida had her first illustration printed at the age of thirteen when a friend submitted it to an unknown English magazine and they reproduced it. Her first professional and recognised appearance came in 1903, at age fifteen, when she illustrated ‘The Fairies of Fern Gully’ for New Idea Magazine.

Ida Rentoul - The Fairies of Fern Gully (1903)

Ida Rentoul – The Fairies of Fern Gully (1903)

The story was so well-liked that she was asked to make a set of six Christmas cards called “Austral Greetings.”

Ida Rentoul - Morning Callers (1903)

Ida Rentoul – Morning Callers (1903)

The next year Ida and her sister, Annie Rentoul made their first book together, Molly’s Bunyip (1904).

Ida Rentoul - Molly's Bunyip (1904)

Ida Rentoul – Molly’s Bunyip (1904)

Molly’s Bunyip was a remarkable book because, for only the second time (the first being Dot and the Kangaroo), Australian children could see magic happening in the Australian bush rather than a European setting which was typical at the time. The financial success of this book encouraged the sisters to write other stories with New Australian Fairy Tales released the same year and the book Molly’s Staircase in 1906.

In 1907 Ida’s illustrations were becoming so popular that she was being asked by other magazines and authors to illustrate for them. The J.C. Williamson theatrical firm asked Ida to start illustrating the booklets that accompanied their pantomimes. Additionally Ida and Annie released two more books, Molly’s Adventures (1907) and Lady of the Blue Beads (1908)

Ida Rentoul - Yeave-ho My Land-Lubbers from the book Lady of the Blue Beads (1908)

Ida Rentoul – Yeave-ho My Land-Lubbers from the book Lady of the Blue Beads (1908)

In 1907 Ida took part in the Woman’s Exhibition, celebrating the achievement of women. In addition to having new artworks displayed, she released a song book Australian Songs for Young and Old with lyrics by Annie Rentoul and music composed by Georgette Peterson. The three women published two more books, Bush Songs of Australia for Young and Old in 1910 and More Australian Songs for Young and Old in 1913. These song books quickly became classics. That same year, a working friendship with author Tarella Quin was started with the production of Gum Tree Brownie and other Faerie Folk of the Never Never. Ida and Tarella also produced Before the Lamps are Lit (1911), Chimney Town (1934) and The Other Side of Nowhere (1934).

In 1909, her productivity dropped temporarily probably due to her marriage to Grenbury Outhwaite in December 1909 with marriage preparations and other social engagements taking up a lot of time. Over the next ten years, her four children were born. It was during this period that she began to master watercolour painting; prior to 1909 most illustrations had been done in pen and ink. All these years of practice lead to the production of Elves and Fairies (1916), her defining work.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Road to Fairyland from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Road to Fairyland from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Autumn Fairy from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Autumn Fairy from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Elves and Fairies was published by Lothian in 1916 and was an amazing book for its time. Few art books with color plates had been printed and this was one of the first. It was large as well at a length of 38 cm with fifteen color plates and thirty black-and-white illustrations.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - The Sea Fairies from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – The Sea Fairies from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - The Little Witch from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – The Little Witch from the book Elves and Fairies (1916)

A publication like this was largely possible because of Grenbury’s marketing and commercial talents, Grenbury Outhwaite also underwrote the production of the art book. Concurrently with the publication of Elves and Fairies, Ida’s first solo exhibition was held. At four guineas, Elves and Fairies was so expensive that a smaller and significantly cheaper edition was printed in 1919 making the book more accessible to children, the target audience.

Ida’s fame was not restricted to Australia. By 1920 Europe had learned about her illustrations and her first exhibitions, organised largely by Grenbury Outhwaite, in London and Paris were held. These shows caught the attention of the publishers A&C Black and from then onwards all her European books were produced by A&C Black.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - A Fairy Frock from the book The Enchanted Forest (1921)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – A Fairy Frock from the book The Enchanted Forest (1921)

 Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Anne Plays the Pipes (1921)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Anne Plays the Pipes from the book The Enchanted Forest (1921)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Anne Rides on the Heavenly River from the book The Enchanted Forest (1921)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Anne Rides on the Heavenly River from the book The Enchanted Forest (1921)

Ida’s career was then at its peak and though she still did the occasional illustration for magazines, newspapers and advertisers, most of her income was coming from exhibitions. At least one exhibition of Ida’s work was held each year from 1916–1924. Ida was still illustrating books, in collaboration with Annie and Grenbury, with five books released between 1921 and 1928—the most popular being The Enchanted Forest (1921) and The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922). Ida produced another huge art book in 1926 named Fairyland of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.  Fairyland was priced at five guineas so was truly for collectors only; it was also her only book to be released in America.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - I am Kexy Friend to Fairies from the book The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – I am Kexy Friend to Fairies from the book The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Then the Fairies Came from the book The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Then the Fairies Came from the book The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922)

Ida’s popularity began to decline in the 1930s; by this time she was forty-two years old and had been illustrating for over twenty years. Part of the reason for the decline was a lack of variety in her work as well as a change in tastes as fairy books were replaced by animal books. In response to this change, Ida began to produce books with less emphasis on fairies and more on animal characters. The change was first noticeable in the book Blossom: A Fairy Story where one of the main characters was a magical cat and then in the ‘Benjamin Bear’ comic strip which ran in the Weekly Times from 1933–1939, featuring almost no humans.

 Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - They felt themselves and Samuel Rise Up, Up, Up from the book Blossom: A Fairy Story (1928)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – They felt themselves and Samuel Rise Up, Up, Up from the book Blossom: A Fairy Story (1928)

 Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Always they Said Goodbye at the Little Green Door from the book Blossom: a Fairy Story (1928)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Always they Said Goodbye at the Little Green Door from the book Blossom: a Fairy Story (1928)

Ida continued to illustrate books for Annie, Grenbury and other authors. However these were rather minor books. Of these, her fairy illustrations made an appearance in A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933). Six Pence to Spend would be the last book Ida wrote herself and in 1938 Grenbury Outhwaite passed away ending their thirty years of collaboration.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Wild Geranium from the book A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Wild Geranium from the book A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Thorn Bush from the book A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Thorn Bush from the book A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933)

During the war years she supplemented her income by working in the Censorship Department where she read POW and other detainee mail. Her last illustrating job was in 1958 illustrating Legends of the Outback by Phyllis M. Power. At the end of her career she had produced over 600 individual illustrations.

 Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - Prue and the Possum from the book Legends of the Outback (1958)

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Prue and the Possum from the book Legends of the Outback (1958)

As this is only a brief description of Ida’s illustrating work, there is a more complete bibliography here.

Additionally, at The Collecting Bug website you will find a large library of images showcasing the illustrations of Outhwaite and information about these works.

Girls as Fairies

Several years ago I visited a medieval fair. It was a modern American version of medieval Europe, censored to conform with modern American concepts of decorum. Therefore, I was surprised to see a booth selling what at first glance appeared to be figurines of nude girls. Then I saw they were not really figures of human girls; each had a tiny pair of gauzy wings. They were actually intended to represent nude fairies. Was it really necessary to put wings on the nude girls and call them fairies?

In my opinion, it was. I would not have been offended by figurines of human girls, but I would have been intimidated about entering their booth and perusing their wares if the figures were displayed as human girls, because I thought others would think it was improper. I had the strange feeling that the other people there felt the same. I felt that nobody who browsed through the booth was offended by nudity, but feared others would look down on them if the figurines represented girls instead of fairies.

I did not get one of the figurines, but I have found other fairy figurines, including this one, at the Mollamari web page.

Mollamari - Young Fairy (2015)

Mollamari – Young Fairy (2015)

Note the attention to detail on this figure. It looks like a realistic figure of a girl, and it may not be immediately apparent why it is a fairy. You can see how the figure was made here, and you will see that the ears—not visible on the completed figure because they are covered by hair—are pointed. If the feature that makes the figure a fairy instead of a girl is not easily seen, is it still better to make it a fairy? In my opinion the answer is yes, but I cannot explain why. This is not logical, but nothing about fairies is logical.

Fairies, elves, and leprechauns are known to occultists as “elementals”, spiritual creatures that are neither human souls nor angels. Some UFO researchers believe that flying saucers are fairies that manifest themselves in an updated form, but still play the same irrational, centuries-old pranks. Although some fairies were thought to be of diminutive size as far back as Gervase of Tilbury (1211), most fairies prior to the 17th century were thought to look much like humans. The de Lusignan family of France, in fact, claims descent from a fairy, Mélusine, who for six days of the week looked exactly like a human. According to Richard A. Schindler, Associate Professor of Art Allegheny College, fairies in art became very popular in the mid-nineteenth century, in part as a contrivance to permit nudity that was becoming unacceptable in paintings of humans. This view is shared by Terri Windling, artist, author, and founder of Endicott Studios, and also by Christopher Wood of the Antique Collectors Club.

It is my personal observation that most of the fairy paintings from the 1860s or earlier portray fairies as adults. Later artists are more likely to paint fairies as juveniles.

Luis Ricardo Falero (1851–1896), was a painter who specialized in fantasy subjects. Most of his paintings are of women over the age limit for Pigtails, but the butterfly girl in this painting appears to be adolescent. Although the fairy is nude, fairy art by this time was not merely a contrivance for nudity. The atmosphere of fantasy and magic is to me the main attraction of this painting. The girl, the butterfly wings, and the flowers, considered separately, are realistic. When these elements are combined in the painting, we go from realism to pure fantasy.

Falero

Luis Falero – The Butterfly (1893)

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) illustrated fairies for children’s books in the early 20th century. Fairy art was still very popular, but was considered especially appropriate for children. I like the facial expressions on the fairies in this painting of a formal procession.

Tarrant

Margaret Tarrant – Lady’s Smock Fairies (c1920)

Cicely Mary Barker (1895–1973) was another popular illustrator of children’s books. The following are from her series of Fairy Flowers of the Spring.

Cicely Mary Barker - Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Cicely Mary Barker – Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Barker2

Cicely Mary Barker – Daffodil Fairy (1923)

Ida Outhwaite (1888–1960) is the third of the early 20th century illustrators I will include in this post. I did not realize until after I started to gather information that there were so many very good artists who specialized in fairies. These two illustrations are typical of her work.

Ida Outhwaite - When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite - Wild Geranium (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – Wild Geranium (c1920)

Brian Froud (born 1947) is one of the most famous contemporary British fairy artists. His fairies appear to be rustic and mischievous. I like the natural feeling of his paintings. Here are two samples.

Brian Froud - Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud – Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud - Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Brian Froud – Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Erlé Ferronnière (born 1971) is a French artist. His favorite themes are mythology and legend. I think his work is great. It is hard for me to explain why; there is just something magical and otherworldly about his art. The first example of his is this cute butterfly girl.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The next is my favorite Ferronnière. Most of the fairies are the wrong age and sex for Pigtails in Paint, but there is a butterfly girl in the lead and a dragonfly girl overhead. Are the fairies kidnapping a human baby? If they are, the baby does not seem to mind. The more I view this painting, the more it draws me into the strange world of fairy.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The last artist I want to include is a Japanese artist who uses the name Syuceui. His work is posted on pixiv. You must register on pixiv to view any drawings that feature nudity, but registration is free. Syuceui has realistically drawn girls, but with surrealistic elements such as wings and floating in air. I have included three of his works. All are simply titled Fairy. The last is my favorite. I like the expression on the fairy’s face; it appears she enjoys posing for her portrait. I would like the drawing if it were of a human girl too. If you look at it logically, it essentially is a drawing of a girl. The only things that indicate she is not human are a pair of wings behind her and a frog and mushroom which, if drawn to scale, indicate her size. That is enough to remove her from our world, and put her in the magic and illogical realm of fairy.

Syuceui - Fairy (2015)

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (1)

Syuceui2

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (2)

Syuceui Fairy (2015)

Syuceui Fairy (2015) (3)