- Museum number
Under the Dock Leaves - an Autumnal Evening's Dream; the sloping banks of a small stream thickly grown with willows, a great bed of dock plants in the foreground, under the leaves elves and fairies dance, winged and clothed in radiant colours, a startled kingfisher flies over the stream. 1878
Watercolour and bodycolour
- Production date
Height: 499 millimetres
Width: 776 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Stainton 1985
A representative example of the genre of fairy painting that, together with fairy literature, became popular in the middle of the nineteenth century. To some extent, this genre was a development of a revived interest in medieval romance and folk literature, combined with sentimental whimsy. Side by side with the hard-headed economic and scientific materialism of the period went a notable degree of interest in the intangible spirit world; Dickens affirmed in 'Household Words' of 1853 "In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that Fairy Tales should be respected".
Dicky Doyle, whose nephew Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was to become a leading figure in the Society for Psychical Research, was one of the most successful illustrators of fairy subjects in the period. His masterpiece is probably 'In Fairyland', published in 1870, a triumph of Victorian book production, with verses by the Pre-Raphaelite poet William Allingham and thirty-six coloured wood engravings. In the 1870s Doyle made extensive use of the watercolour medium on a large scale, as in this example. He ingeniously conveys the minuteness of the fairies by his naturalistic rendering of the leaves and trees on a much larger scale.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1878 Summer, London, Grosvenor Gallery, no. 181
1980 May-Jul, Brighton Museum, 'British Fairies', no. D31
1983/4 Nov-Feb, London, V&A, Richard Doyle, no. 128
1984 May-Jun, Dublin, NG Ireland, Richard Doyle, no. 128
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.185
1991 Jan-Mar, Cleveland MA, Ohio, BM English Watercolours, no. 92
1991 Mar-June, Raleigh, N Carolina MA, BM English W'crs, no. 92
1997/8 Nov-Feb, London, Royal Academy, In Fairyland ...
2009 June-Sep, Southampton City Art Gallery, Do you believe in fairies?
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased by the Museum at Doyle's posthumous sale at Christie's in 1886.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number