Fairies & Elves: Richard Doyle’s 19th-Century Fairyland Illustrations

Elves, fairies, and insects in Richard Doyle In Fairyland (1870)

I’m back from a long hiatus!

Thank you to everyone who visits and shares this website. I hope everyone likes this latest batch of free vintage illustrations.

So let’s get to it šŸ™‚

There are so many more things I want to add to this site, one of them being more elves and fairies.

I’ve been aware of Richard Doyle’s In Fairyland illustrations for a while now, so I got my hands on some from publicĀ domain collections atĀ various libraries.

This guy is definitely a public domain stand-out.

You can learn more about Doyle’s In Fairyland series at the Met’s public domain page.

Three elves battling a giant grasshopper in Richard Doyle's In Fairyland.

Fairies and elves clash with nature in this fun, vibrant series. Originally published in 1870.

A vintage color illustration of an elf with owls and birds.

Richard “Dickie” Doyle was born in Cambridge Terrace, London, in 1824 to notable Irish political caricaturist, John Doyle. Richard had no formal art training outside of his father’s own studio and guidance. At an early age, he showed a particular fondness for the fantasy genre.

Two fairies flying through the sky with a butterfly leaf chariot.

5 Fun Facts About Elves and Fairies

According to Encyclopedia.com,

  • The word “fairy” comes from the Latin word, Fata or fate.
  • Ā In folklore, they’re depicted as both helpful and potentially harmful to humans. But always mischeviousĀ in manner!
  • “Fairy tradition” or “fairy culture” is strongest in the British Isles. However, fairies appear in stories from Africa to Asia as well.
  • Many fairy stories present fairyland as a place where time stops or slows down considerably. This is evidenced by humans (mortals) who’re kicked out of fairyland after a year, only to return to the human world where several years have passed.
  • In 1927, an actual Fairy Investigation Society was established to document and study possible fairy sightings.

A vintage elf and fairy kissing near a mushroom in Fairyland.

This last image shows two of Doyles infamous fairies kissing in Fairyland. Perfect for Valentines Day!

Advertisements

Whimsical Vintage Illustration of a Fairy Grotto

Free vintage illustration of a fairy grotto

Hey!

I wanted to pop in quickly to share this awesome 19th-century illustration of a fairy grotto I found through the New York State Library.

I love this image. It sort of reminds me of The Last Unicorn, you know, that 80’s animation where the band America did the entire soundtrack with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Anyhoo.

This image was originally published in 1867 by Currier & Ives, a 19th-century American printmaking company. There isn’t too much information available about this artwork, but you can read more about it here.

Free Vintage Children’s Book Illustrations of Fairies and Elves from 1918

There are neverending ideas for fairy and elf inspired projects. I love shining a light on awesome fairylore that’s available to the public, and fortunately, the public domain is packed with classic fairy stories and illustrations to use and modify for your children’s libraries, after school programs, paintings, Etsy products, reimagined fairy stories, and more creative projects. These vintage children’s book illustrations come from the Frances Jenkins Olcott classic, The Book of Elves and Fairies, and were illustrated by Milo Winter. Milo’s work here is considered a representation of The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration which spanned the late 19th century to the early 1940s. The book has around 50 different kinds of fairy stories and features titles like “The Boy who Found the Pot of Gold”, which tells the tale of a young boy who meets a Leprechaun for example. You’ll also find stories about winter fairies and more mythical seasonal creatures.

 

These images were curated from a digital copy of an original publication found in the public domain and edited by this site. These images are entirely free to use in your personal, commercial, and educational work without permission. Please give credit to FreeVintageIllustrations.com when posting these images on your blogs, websites, and social media pages.

Free Vintage Color Illustrations of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Did you know that the original title of ‘Snow White’ was ‘Snow Drop?’ I learned some fun facts about one of my favorite fairytales while searching for antique examples of the book. This particular gallery features color illustrations from a 1913 version of the story. These copyright-free images are in the public domain and can be used for making greeting cards, homemade books, posters, mug designs, and many more creative projects. The seven dwarves illustration are particularly versatile and would make great crafting material for general holiday and fantasy-themed art projects as well.

 

Fun Facts about Snow White!

  • A German fairy tale written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, otherwise known as the Brothers Grimm
  • The original title of Snow White was Sneewittchen orĀ “Snowdrop”
  • The first edition of Snow White was published in 1812 and the final revision for the book was released in 1854
  • Snow White was turned into a Broadway play in 1912. The Broadway version of the story was the first to give the seven dwarves their own names.
  • The Disney version changed the names of the seven dwarves and eventually coined the names we know and love today
  • There are a few theories about the inspiration for Snow White. A German historian in 1994 theorized that Snow White may have been inspired by real-life German Countess, Margarete von Waldeck. Some accounts claim that Margarete’s stepmother forced her to move away to Brussels where she fell for man who would go on to become Spain’s Phillip II. However, both Margarete’s stepmother and father disapproved of the match, and Margarete supposedly died from being poisoned shortly thereafter.
  • Snow White could possibly be based on a girl named Maria Sophia von Erthal. Maria’s father was a wealthy landowner and widow who eventually married a new woman, Claudia Elisabeth von Venningen. According to 18th-century accounts, Claudia notoriously disliked her own stepchildren and had a special mirror that spoke. That legendary mirror now lives in a museum and was actually a special acoustical-mechanical toy.