Perhaps it’s the illuminating glow of light… or maybe even the circle of fairies, this ‘Midsummer Eve’ painting by Edward Robert Hughes has always fascinated me. The scenery depicts a fairy tale world, a mythical goddess sprinkled with flowers, surrounded by little winged creatures. I like to believe she is singing a song of summer and the fairies are singing along. It reminds me of the bedtime lullabies my mother and grandmother sang to me as a little girl. Moreover, this painting has proven that even as an adult, my imagination is just as powerful.
Research shows this piece of artwork references the belief that barriers between the fairytale world and the world as we know it, were thinner at “midsummer”, allowing mythical spirits to enter our world. This created a phenomenon that if you entered the woods on a midsummer evening, then you would encounter fairies and mystical creatures.
This phenomenon was often viewed as sinister, but starting in the nineteenth century, fairies acquired a much more likeable reputation. The artist, Hughes, contributed to the shift in this attitude, redefining this folklore with his use of golden lights, warm tones, and soft pastels.
Today, this painting is known as enchanting and charming, reminiscent of a more magical and distant life.