The often grim reality of Victorian life induced within many of those who lived through it the desire for escapism.
Whereas rich industrialists who had made their money from the exploitation of children in the Cotton Mills of the North-West sought to escape the harsh environment they had in large part created in paintings of a rural idyll that likely never existed; middle class professionals sought comfort from the extreme poverty they witnessed beyond their doorstep everyday in the mystical fairy paintings of artists such as John Anster Fitzgerald, and Joseph Noel Paton.
The most popular and enduring however was Richard Dadd who produced his best work whilst an inmate at the Bethlehem Psychiatric Hospital where he had been incarcerated ever since stabbing his father to death.
The Victorians lived in an era when triumph existed in equal measure alongside disaster and had a corresponding fascination with the ethereal whether it was the mythologizing of the past, the strange miasma of disease, or spiritualism and the afterlife.
Fairy painting captured all three in a blaze of colour and dreamlike fantasy that provided solace to the often tortured Victorian soul.