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Alice and Leaping Fairy

A work made of silver chloride print.

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  • A work made of silver chloride print.

Date:

August 1920

Artist:

Elsie Wright (English, 1902–1988) and
Frances Griffiths (English, 1908–1986)

About this artwork

The story of the Cottingley fairies is a legendary photographic hoax. In 1917, in the Yorkshire village of Cottingley, two girls decided to play a little trick on their parents, and created what they claimed was photographic evidence of fairies dancing. The pictures attracted the attention of Arthur Conan Doyle who, despite the scientific skepticism manifested in his Sherlock Holmes stories, was an ardent believer in spiritism. In the summer of 1920, at Doyle’s request, the girls took—that is, made—three more photographs (this is the first). Doyle deemed them authentic, and published the photographs (calling Frances “Alice”) to worldwide interest. Only decades later was the secret revealed: the girls had copied drawings from an illustrated children’s book, cut out the pictures, and held them in place with hat pins. Although they now seem obvious fakes, a willing public believed in the inherent veracity of photography and its ability to see things that are beyond the scope of normal vision.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Photography and Media

Artist

Elsie Wright

Title

Alice and Leaping Fairy

Place

England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1920

Medium

Silver chloride print

Dimensions

Image/paper: 15.4 × 11.7 cm (6 1/8 × 4 5/8 in.); Mount: 20.4 × 15.2 cm (8 1/16 × 6 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Brenda Shapiro in honor of her granddaughter

Reference Number

2011.129

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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