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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.


August 1920


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.


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Elsie Wright


Alice and Leaping Fairy


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


Silver chloride print


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


Extended information about this artwork

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