The Nightmare

Fitzgerald’s paintings often depict the fairy world overlapping with our own, separated at times only by the veil of sleep. There are overt references to drugs in his 'dream' pictures, and nowhere more so than in this picture, dating to 1857/8. A red and a yellow bottle stand by the girl's bed, possibly containing opiates. She writhes on the bed, garlanded with flowers and wrapped in a brilliant red sash, surrounded by eerie creatures of the imagination disporting themselves in the moonlight. Often more atmospheric in watercolour than in oil, Fitzgerald was called the 'King of the Fairy Painters.' His pictures are rarely cute, for the sweetness of the subject is often leavened by a healthy dose of the macabre, with vignettes of dissipation and cruelty. — Rupert Mass


Last modified 20 May 2014