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 ūüôā

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 public¬†domain collections at¬†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.
  • ¬†In folklore, they’re depicted as both helpful and potentially harmful to humans. But always mischevious¬†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!

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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.

Public Domain Vintage Illustrations of Gnomes and Fairies!

It’s time to step into the land of make believe. Mr. Rogers had one on his show. ¬†So gosh darn it, I’m going to create one of my own! There’s a lot of whimsical, fantasy themed vintage art in the public domain. ¬†For this post, I thought I’d focus on Gnomes, fairies, and other magical beings that inhabit fairy lands. ¬†Look out for more whimsical themed posts on fairy houses, mushrooms, and other woodland themes.

 

Throw a Fairy & Gnome Themed Party with these 5 Party Decor Ideas!

Whimsical gnome and fairy themed parties are seriously fun to plan.  Plus there are tons of fantastic free vintage images available to create unique goodie/party favor bags, tree ornaments and garlands, jewelry, decoupaged toy chests for gifts, birthday party t-shirts, and more.

Keep these 5 super creative ideas on hand the next time you’re stumped for party planning inspiration.

  1. Turn your favorite images above into iron-transfers for party t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts.

  2. Print images out on adhesive paper to make quick and easy stickers for party favor bags, fairy-themed craft activities, invitations, and to/from stickers for presents.

  3. Use a simple online photo editor to turn your gnome images into black and white pages for a gnome-themed coloring books.  Makes a great alternative to party favor bags.

  4. Have a holiday birthday coming up?  Create cardstock holiday ornaments by simply cutting out and decorating your favorite gnome images above.

  5. Pick a compelling image above and print it out on plastic transfer sheets design for projectors.  Cover a portion of a wall with large white butcher paper.  Project your fairy or gnome image onto the covered portion of the wall to create a unique fairy tracing activity for your party!

This theme is just for kids either!  Yes, I totally support you channelling your inner elf, gnome, woodland fairy, and wizard.  These images serve has fantastic inspiration for cosplay ideas, Halloween costumes, masquerade balls, and theater productions too.