Bell, Robert Anning (1863-1933; English)
A Flight of Fairies 1901
Watercolour and gouache on paper, 49.6 x 62.4 cm (sheet)
Purchased, 1901 (advice of the Royal Academy)
National Gallery of Victoria (104-2)

This typical Victorian/Edwardian fairy image, comparable for instance with the well-known illustrations of his contemporary Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), somehow escaped the attentions of those determined to cull Victoriana from the NGV during the 1940s and early 50s.

Bell, who taught in Liverpool, Glasgow and London, and was elected to the RA in 1922, painted religious and other works, and designed mosaics for Westminster Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster during the 1910s and 20s.

The present work was one of several selected for Melbourne by the Royal Academy from the 1901 exhibition of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (see also Brockbank In the Cornfield {1901} NGV [WT] etc.).


AR 1901, p.23; NGV 1905, p.78 (II.Stawell Gallery, no.172; ill.) [£52/10] 

For Bell, see Mallalieu (1976), p.29, noting that he was elected RWS in 1904 and RA in 1922; see also AKL 8 (1994), pp.416-17 and Bénézit 2, p.63 (both mentioning the NGV work)

For general remarks on Victorian taste for fairies, see also Wood Victorian Painters (1995), vol.2, p.16