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Frick Collection

Victorian Fairy Painting
- Additional Information -

Critically and commercially popular during the 19th century was the intriguing and distinctly British genre of Victorian fairy painting, the subject of an exhibition that comes this fall to The Frick Collection.  The paintings and works on paper, approximately thirty in number, have been selected by Edgar Munhall, Curator of The Frick Collection, from a comprehensive touring exhibition - the first of its type for this subject.  The original exhibition was organized by the University of Iowa Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London.  Record attendance and catalogue sales throughout the tour of Victorian Fairy Painting signal the public's avid and continuing absorption with this subject.

Fairy painting brought together many opposing elements in the collective psyche and artistic sensibility of the time: rich subject-matter, an escape from the grim elements of an industrial society, an indulgence of new attitudes towards sex, a passion for the unknown, and a denial of the exactitude of photography.  Drawing on literary inspiration from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream to Sir Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, as well as the theater, the dance, and music, fairy painters exercised their magic with the precision of the Pre-Raphaelites, aided too by experiments with drugs and spiritualism.

Artists represented in the exhibition include such acknowledged masters of fairy painting as Richard Dadd, John Anster Fitzgerald, Daniel Maclise, and Sir Joseph Noël Paton, but also such surprises as Sir Edwin Landseer, Sir John Everett Millais, and J. M. W. Turner.  The works are drawn from private collections, museums, and other institutions throughout England and the United States.

A fully illustrated scholarly catalogue complements the exhibition.  Victorian Fairy Painting features essays on the fairy phenomenon by several authors, including the late Jeremy Maas, Charlotte Gere, and Pamela White Trimpe.  Topics include fairies in literature, music, the theater, and the 19th-century study of folklore and fairytales.  The catalogue describes the painters and their work and examines the reasons for the Victorian fascination with fairyland.  Published by Merrel Holberton.

The original exhibition was curated by Pamela White Trimpe, Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Assistant Director, The University of Iowa Museum of Art; Jane Martineau, Curator, Royal Academy of Arts; and Charlotte Gere.  The late Jeremy Maas was deeply involved in the planning of the exhibition.  The exhibition was organized by The University of Iowa Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London.  Edgar Munhall, Curator of The Frick Collection is coordinating the exhibition's presentation at The Frick Collection.

Support for the exhibition comes in part from the National Endowment for the Arts, United Airlines, and United AirlineWorld-Wide Cargo.  Presentation of Victorian Fairy Painting in New York is made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Fellows of The Frick Collection.

Tuesday, October 13, 1998, from 9:00pm to midnight
In an event unlike any through the fall season, The Victorian Faerie Ball will allow guests to revel in the Victorian passion for legend, folklore, and the supernatural.  To celebrate the opening of the special exhibition, the 1914 mansion of The Frick Collection will be transformed for a fanciful sylvan evening and guests will be encouraged (but not required) to arrive in costume.

Taking inspiration from the special exhibition, an array of song, dance, and magical entertainment will be featured in a Theatre of Shadow and Illusion.  Whimsical desserts and cocktails are offered in fantastic settings.  The Victorian Faerie Ball serves as a benefit to raise funds to preserve the buildings of The Frick Collection.  For further information, please call Samantha Reifler at (212) 288-0700.

Wednesday, December 2, 1998, 5:30pm
Sex, Drugs, and Death in Fairyland  Speaker: Charlotte Gere
Where did the Victorians find their fairyland?  Offered in conjunction with the special exhibition, The Frick Collection presents a lecture by Charlotte Gere, London Author and Nineteenth-Century Specialist.  This lecture looks at art, science, dreams, hallucinations, opium addiction, and the newly revealed realms of spiritualism to discover the sources of Victorian fairy painting.  This lecture is made possible through the generosity of the Fellows of The Frick Collection and other donors.

This lecture is open to the public without charge one half-hour before the event.  If those planning to attend arrive earlier, they are expected to pay the regular gallery admission fee.

The Frick Collection is an anthology of the some of the most distinguished works of Western art from the early Renaissance through the late nineteenth century, including masterpieces by Bellini, El Greco, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Vermeer, Whistler, and many others housed in one of the great mansions remaining from the Gilded Age.  These paintings are complemented by one of the world's finest collections of Renaissance bronzes and by great French sculpture of the eighteenth century.  These treasures are surrounded by outstanding furniture and decorative art works from the ateliers of Riesener, Lacroix, Boulle, Carlin, Gouthière, and Sèvres.  Each year more than 250,000 visitors from New York, across America, and around the world come to the Collection at 1 East 70th Street, once the residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919).  Designed by Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings and constructed in 1913-1914, the building was changed after Mrs. Frick's death in 1931, with alterations and additions made by the architect John Russell Pope.  In 1935 the Collection opened to the public.  A new Reception Hall built in 1977, was designed by Harry van Dyke, John Barrington Bayley, and G. Frederick Poehler, in addition to two additional temporary exhibition galleries.

The Frick Collection also operates the Frick Art Reference Library at 10 East 71st Street, both a research library and a photoarchive.  The Library is one of the world's great repositories for the documentation and study of Western art and has served the international art world for more than seventy-five years.

General Information Phones:  Collection (212) 288-0700  Library (212) 288-8700  E-mail:

The Library is around the corner at 10 East 71st Street.  Museum Hours: 10am to 6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from 1pm to 6pm Sundays.  Closed Mondays, New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, December 24, and December 25.  Limited hours (1:00 to 6:00pm) on Lincoln's Birthday, Election Day, and Veterans Day.

Library Hours: 10am to 5pm, Monday through Friday; 9:30am to 1pm on Saturday. Closed August and on Saturdays in June and July.  Please call for holiday closure schedule.

Subway: #6 local (on Lexington Avenue) to 68th Street station  Bus: M1, M2, M3, and M4 southbound on Fifth Avenue to 72nd Street and northbound on  Madison Avenue to 70th Street  Museum Shop: the shop closes at 5:45pm, and is open otherwise, the same days and hours as the Museum  Group Visits: Please call (212) 288-0700 for details and to make reservations.  Public Programs: A calendar of events is published regularly and is available upon request.

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