Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairies Fabric

cicely mary barker flower fairies

The Dog Violet Fairy

past Cicely Mary Barker

(left); with


Honeysuckle Fairy

by Cicely Mary Barker

(middle); and

The Acorn Fairy

by Cicely Mary Barker

(correct), via the Bloom Fairies Website

Cicely Mary Barker was an English artist who is most well-known for her work depicting fairies, flowers, and the forest. Her work, highly influenced past childhood whimsy, is revered for its fantastical elements. Her most notable works are those depicting fairies, and she is however remembered today for her

Flower Fairies

books. Read on to find out more virtually her life, influences, artistic process, and legacy.

Young Cicely Mary Barker

cicely mary barker portrait

Young Cicely Mary Barker

, via the Bloom Fairies Website

Cicely Mary Barker was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, on June 28th, 1895. From an early age, art was a vital presence in Barker’s life: from her father’s own art to the illustrated storybooks she read equally a kid. In her adolescence, Barker would prove to be a promising student, becoming the youngest member of the

Croydon Fine art Society


age sixteen

By 1923, her very first book would be published and would receive a positive and lucrative response, launching her illustration career. Cicely Mary Barker’s work contains all the whimsy and charm of the

Art Nouveau

aesthetic, as well as the precision and fine item of the Pre-Raphaelites. Her most famous works, the

Blossom Fairies


, were created with such careful observation you would retrieve she was a fairy botanist. It’due south no wonder that Barker’due south

Flower Fairies

books are still being published today, and her art is adored past those of all ages.

Art Movements That Inspired The Blossom Fairies

pia de tolommei dante gabriel rossetti

La Pia de’ Tolommei

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

, 1868. via Spencer Museum of Fine art, Lawrence

Cicely Mary Barker, an English native, born at the terminate of the 19th century, grew up during a unique menstruum of fine art history. Later on the short reign of the

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

, several other creative and literary movements sprouted from those initial seeds. The


were initially rebels to the elite fine art earth and the Imperial Academy, creating art that directly assorted what was considered “fine” by the art institution. Although the PRB was only active for a couple of years, their ideas about art and creativity stoked the fires of many artists, poets, and craftspeople. The


Motion, the

Craft Movement
, and eventually, Art Nouveau, would all grow out of the ideas that made the PRB then radical and dissimilar.

Are y’all enjoying this article?

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

Please check your inbox to activate your subscription

Thank you!

All of these intersecting art movements shared a few key elements: observation and representation of natural environments, mythological and fairytale subjects, and attending to detail. It’south no coincidence that all of these traits can be found in Barker’s work: it is said that she grew up reading the illustrated storybooks of artists Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott, competing illustrators who were both affiliates of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Barker’due south Art Style And Process

the lilac fairy flower fairies

The Lilac Fairy

, from

Flower Fairies of the Trees

by Cicely Mary Barker
, 1940, via the Bloom Fairies Website

In Cicely Mary Barker’s painting,

The Lilac Fairy

, i is immediately struck by the minute details of the lilac itself: tiny purple flowers clustered together surrounded by fat light-green leaves. Of course, the nigh defining quality of a lilac is its perfume, and and so Barker pays homage to this past having her little fairy take a deep inhale. Barker is said to have made every try to pigment and depict from life.

Whether on her visits to Kew Gardens, (the Royal Botanic Gardens in Richmond) where staff members would share plant samples with Barker for studying or during vacations at her family’southward summer habitation in Storrington, inspiring environments were never too far. All of Barker’s Blossom Fairy illustrations are made with this professional botanist quality and could be included in a botany textbook if not for the little winged creatures interacting with the floral specimens. In

Flower Fairies of the Wayside

, Barker writes,

 “I have drawn all the plants and flowers very advisedly, from real ones; and everything that I have said near them is equally truthful as I could make it.”

red clover fairy flower fairies

The Ruddy Clover Fairy

, from

Flower Fairies of the Wayside

by Cicely Mary Barke

r, 1948, via the Flower Fairies Website

In addition to ascertainment of the plants and their natural environments, Cicely Mary Barker likewise had the children who attended her sister Dorothy’south schoolhouse dress as fairy models. She even went so far as to arts and crafts the costumes, complete with fairy wings, and posed the children in fanciful scenes. The fairy wings of Barker’southward fairies are all reminiscent of insects such as dragonflies, butterflies, bees, and moths, and are often purposely paired with a specific flower to create an environmentally aware illustration, such as the willow fairy with her dragonfly wings who plays in the water of a pond.

willow fairy flower fairies trees cicely mary barker

The Willow Fairy


from Blossom Fairies of the Trees

by Cicely Mary Barker
, 1940, via the Bloom Fairies Website

All of these steps of Cicely Mary Barker’s process come up together for the enchanting event that thousands have adored for decades. It is a carefully balanced blend of




alike. The thorough studies of plants, insects, and people are exhibited on a fanciful composition, creating an educational and imaginative experience.

“The Fairy Craze” Of The Early 20th Century

rose four flowers cycle alphonse mucha


from the

Iv Flowers Cycle

Alphonse Mucha
, 1898, via Mucha Museum, Prague

Peter Pan

, or,

Peter and Wendy

past J.K. Barrie

, was first performed every bit a play in 1904 in London and published every bit a novel in 1911. Although non without skepticism, the play was generally received with warmth and a communal sense of child-like wonder. Although Barrie’south work is not the direct crusade for information technology, possibly it acted as a catalyst for a long-suppressed sense of wonder and imagination in Edwardian England. With the new modernization promised by the Industrial Revolution, there seems to have been a societal pushback or revival for the “old means”, manifesting itself in the Arts and Crafts Movement,

Fine art Nouveau
, and the demand for fairy stories.

mulberry fairy cicely mary barker

The Mulberry Fairy

, from

Bloom Fairies of the Trees

by Cicely Mary Barker

, 1940, via the Blossom Fairies Website

“Here nosotros become round the Mulberry bush!”

You retrieve the rhyme, oh yes!

But which of you lot know

How Mulberries abound

On the slender branches, dropping low?

Not many of you, I guess.

Someone goes circular the Mulberry bush

When nobody’southward there to encounter;

He takes the best

And he leaves the rest,

From tiptop to toe like a Mulberry drest:

This fatty little fairy’due south he!

In Cicely Mary Barker’southward

Flower Fairies

books, in that location is a poem she wrote alongside every analogy. Each of these whimsical verses offer playful explanations for natural phenomena, such as the leaves turning in fall, the falling of acorns, or maybe your missing sock. Fairies are painted as mischievous just harmless creatures who are caretakers of the natural earth but are also constantly at play. Barker’south fairies specifically are ever modeled afterwards children, so this is in line with England’s full general association of fairies being giddy child-like beings.

Legacy Of Cicely Mary Barker

flower fairies book

Flower Fairies of the Fall

by Cicely Mary Barker

, 2018 edition, via Penguin Random House (left); with

Book of the Bloom Fairies

by Cicely Mary Barker

, 1927 (mayhap 1st edition), published by Blackness and Sons Limited, via AbeBooks (right)

Cicely Mary Barker died in 1973 at seventy-seven years one-time. She spent her life creating art and poesy and finding magic in the mundane. Barker’s

Flower Fairies

are a harmonious pairing of realism and Romanticism, creating in viewers a sense of child-like wonder no thing how former they are. Her work continues to be published to this day, and that is peradventure a testament to the indelible desire for enchantment in readers from all over the world.

Author Image


Frances DilworthFine art Historian due west/ BA Art History & Conservation
Frances graduated from Rutgers University with a major in art history and a minor in English language. Among their many interests, medieval art history comes to the front. They are currently researching the symbolic, cultural, and applied meanings of the medieval garden in their thesis, Gardens of the Arts and crafts Motility and Their Medieval Roots; which explores the many ways in which medieval art and culture were adopted by the artists of the 19th century. As a non-binary scholar, they are also passionate about researching and writing most underrepresented groups throughout history, such as the LGBTQIA+ community. 1 mean solar day, Frances hopes to publish a book that examines a more than inclusive and cross-cultural perspective of medieval art.


Related:   Fermented Plant Juice From Banana Flower