本文目的便是試析此時期精靈畫題材轉變的可能因素，並探討莎劇精靈畫是否在題材的詮釋上遇到瓶頸，抑或其它外因介入。由於畫家創作精靈畫時，莎劇未必是唯一的參照對象，而有可能結合民俗研究和前輩畫家的成果，因此，第一章將先解析民間傳說與莎劇中的精靈，並探討精靈畫崛起的機緣以及前人作品的成就。第二章則分析Sir Joseph Noël Paton（1821 – 1901）於1840年代晚期創作的兩件精靈畫《奧伯朗與泰坦妮亞的和解》和《奧伯朗與泰坦妮亞的爭執》大獲成功的因素。第三章將分析John Everett Millais（1829 – 1896）的作品《斐迪南受艾利兒誘惑》，接著探究莎劇精靈畫沒落的可能原因。最後將探討十九世紀中期過後，對精靈的看法有何變異，是否對畫家詮釋精靈畫的方式構成影響。
;Victorian fairy painting is a peculiar genre in British art, but it has yet received little attention from art historians. Since origins of fairy painting have strong relations with the Shakespeare revival, and most themes of fairy paintings before 1850 were inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest, fairy painting was initially an offshoot of history painting. Shakespearean fairy painting has reached its peak of popularity in the late 1840s; however, after 1850, the two Shakespeare’s fairy works were no longer the primary sources of fairy painting, and fairy painters chose themes instead from folklore, or realms of eroticism and private imagination, even though other Shakespearean paintings remain popular until the 20th century.
This thesis explores the transformation of fairy painting in the mid-19th century. If the Shakespeare revival as well as the Victorians’ fascination with the supernatural flourished during the entire 19th century, why did fairy painters stop interpreting Shakespeare’s fairies after 1850? For most Victorian fairy painters attempted to combine fantasy with “truth to nature”, how did they mediate between fairyland and reality? How did they materialize supernatural creatures without making them simply pale, visual translations of the narrative? Did these problems or solutions relate to the transformation of fairy painting? Or, did any new factor or new interest emerge in the mid-19th century, which may have brought about the change of themes in fairy painting?
Since Shakespeare’s fairies derive from folklore, and fairy painters would refer to folklore as well as predecessors, in the first chapter, I examine fairies both in folklore and in Shakespeare’s works; then, I explore the formation of the popularity of fairy painting, and discuss the achievements of early fairy painters, including Henry Fuseli, Daniel Maclise and Richard Dadd. In the second chapter, I analyze Sir Joseph Noël Paton’s two fairy paintings, The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania and The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, which brought Shakespearean fairy painting to the highest point in the late 1840s. In the third chapter, I discuss Sir John Everett Millais’s Ferdinand Lured by Ariel, which was exhibited in the same year with The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania in 1850. However, the former did not acquire any recognition from art critics while the latter obtained great admiration. I will analyze the difference between them, and discuss how Paton’s and Millais’s works might reveal that Shakespearean fairy painting was in a dilemma in the mid-19th century. As Millais’s work is the only fairy painting of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, I will explore the reason why the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were not interested in fairy painting. In addition, how the new factors which appeared in the 1850s impacted on the views of fairy and on the ways fairy painters interpreted fairies, is also an important issue that I will discuss in this chapter.