Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's Fairy Paintings

Why are Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's fairy pictures so beloved in her native Australia and around the world?
A group of fairies riding shells across a lake, with a moonlit background.

This illustration, entitled,'Fairy Islands', from the book Elves and Fairies, 1916 is a fine example of her how her great skill in black and white (she was a master of the line drawing) is carried over to her color composition.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888-1961) and her elder sister, Annie, were raised in Melbourne, Australia by affluent, cultured parents. They were told fairy stories by their parents at bedtime and were so impressed that they decided to write their own. Their first book {Molly's Bunyip} (1904) was written by Annie and illustrated by Ida when she was only 16 years old.

Ida went on to publish many fairy books and postcards, and they became enormously popular both in Australia and England. {Fairyland} (1931) was perhaps her greatest work, but by this time luxurious books of fantasy had passed out of fashion and her work had lost some of its popularity.

Ida Outhwaite picture of a fairy dancing with leaves and rabbits

Ida, like Arthur Rackham, excels in both color and black and white. Her fairy world is remarkable for its conviction, its variety, its delicacy and its superb artistry.

She was masterful at depicting fairies and the natural world. Her books include Elves and Fairies (1916), The Enchanted Forest (1921)and Blossom: A Fairy Story (1928).

Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour.

Outhwaite's first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age - it accompanied a story written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband - most notably for {The Enchanted Forest} (1921), {The Little Fairy Sister} (1923) and {Fairyland} (1926). They are all notable for their illustration rather than their texts.

In a number of cases, her children - Robert, Anne, Wendy and William - served as models for her illustrations.

Outhwaite's fertile imagination took her from land to sea. This lovely image of a fairy "surfing" on fish does an admirable job of using the shape of the water and wave to frame the blue-green water and the warm colors of the fish and the balancing figure.

A fairy standing on the backs of fish as she rides down a huge wave.

*The major books illustrated by Outhwaite:*

{Mollie's Bunyip} (1904) {Mollie's Staircase}(1906) {Gum Tree Brownie and other Faerie Folk of the Never Never} (1907) {Before the Lamps are Lit} (1911); {Elves and Fairies} (1916); {The Enchanted Forest} (1921); {The Little Green Road to Fairyland} (1922); {The Little Fairy Sister} (1923); {The Sentry and the Shell Fairy} (1924); {Fairyland} (1926); {Blossom: A Fairy Story} (1928); {Bunny and Brownie: The Adventures of George and Wiggle} (1930); and {A Bunch of Wild Flowers} (1933).

Greeting Card

A Fairy Scattering Leaves

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Greeting Card

Fairy Riding Fish

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