Forums > Queen - General Discussion > Fairy Feller's Masterpiece

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queenUSA user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 22 Apr 11, 18:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Last month I completed a pilgrimage to see the Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke painting at the Tate Britain Gallery in London. 

I had to wait my turn as the painting had a crowd of fans around it from Germany who were pointing out details to each other.  

Finally it was my turn.  It's an average sized painting protected by a glass covering. It's very complex. Dadd worked on it for 9 years and never quite finished up the lower left panel.  

Was I standing right were Freddie, John, Brian and Roger stood?  How in the world did they capture and transform that painting into a song so brilliantly?  By the time Freddie even got to the painting it was already well over a 100 years old.  

I love how Freddie's voice soars on the words DELIVER and LEADER. The use of the harpsichord was a brilliant touch ... and I'm not sure if they ever used that instrument again on anything else. The song is just so well done. It amazes me.  

What other band but Queen, I ask you, could do such a brilliant job with this obscure painting and bring it to life?

Thoughts anyone??


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Posted: 22 Apr 11, 18:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No one!

And wow, you visited just for the painting?


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Posted: 22 Apr 11, 18:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes ... seeing it via computer was just not working for me.  Must be seen in person. If Freddie could drag his band mates to it, the least I could do was to check it out.


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Posted: 22 Apr 11, 19:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

One of my favorite Queen songs of all time. LOTS of information on the backing track but even more impressive are all the vocal overdubs! And Freddie DID bring that song to life in terms of his visual description! For such a young band at that stage of their career they really had used the studio and their ideas to the full!

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Posted: 22 Apr 11, 20:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brilliant!

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Posted: 23 Apr 11, 01:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's also interesting to note Richard Dadd painted The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke while serving a lifetime sentence in a mental hospital for killing his father.  He possibly suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

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Posted: 23 Apr 11, 10:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Dadd at one time thought he was possessed by the Egyptian god, Osiris. His father did not want to commit him - but he should have because Dadd's father ended up being a victim.  After killing his father,  Dadd tried to attack a tourist in the same way. He was declared insane and lived the rest of his life in an asylum.  A steward at the hospital took an interest in Dadd's artistic endeavors and commissioned a Fairy painting - which became Dadd's Fairy Feller's Master Stroke.  The Feller is poised to split a hazelnut which will be hollowed out to make a new fairy carriage for Queen Mab. Dadd wrote a very long poem to accompany the painting which describes each character in detail and explains his inspirations for the composition. The microscopic detail present in the painting is quite amazing.   Madness, it seems, ran in Dadd's family because two of his brothers and one sister also were declared insane.

Getting back to the musical portrayal of the painting, the vocal overdubs mentioned in an earlier post truly work, in my opinion, to create a "manic" type atmosphere within the song.  Does it sound like  competing voices to you?  Perhaps directing and inspiring the artist and his furious and detailed  brush strokes that bring about the creation of the characters in the painting?    

Queen taking on this complex painting and bringing it to life just amazes me to no end.   I wonder what Dadd would have thought about it upon hearing it - in all of his madness would he recognize his own characters?


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Posted: 23 Apr 11, 15:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There is a harpsichord in Killer Queen. I can send you it isolated if you send me your email address

EDIT: actually, having listened to it again not really sure if it is a real harpsichord?!

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Posted: 23 Apr 11, 15:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

On KQ it's a jangle piano. The multi-track thing was mislabelled.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 23 Apr 11, 15:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=20833&roomid=6437

His painting 'bacchanalian scene' looks like a Freddie Mercury portret imo

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Posted: 24 Apr 11, 08:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Some years ago I made a bit of a study of the painting of The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke, and added some names to the picture.
See picture.

Attachment: 1124241079914409.jpg 939 KB
This has been downloaded 35 time(s).



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Posted: 24 Apr 11, 09:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

^ Thank you Rien for this very well laid out guide to the figures in the painting.   A guide such as this helps to appreciate the song better. 

Yesterday I tried to find another study to post onto here that I had seen posted to a site called Bohemiaplace.net. But that site appears to be gone now.   That site also had a line by line comparison of song lyrics to the poem which identified some common word usage. 

There were some key differences in the painting study I could not find and yours.  The most different identifications being the Satyr and the Nymph in Yellow.  In that study the Satyr is identified as the head just to the left of the Pedagogues elbow (and indeed he is a dirty laddio - as he peers under the ladies gown). The other is the nymph in yellow - identified next to the Pedagogue on the right side (and slightly behind the Pedagogues shoulder).  He wears a whitish gown with a yellow bodice, has nymph wings, and I thought his lips appeared to be overly reddish (a bit quaere, as no one else seems to have such bright lips).   Please take another look at the painting and tell me what you think of these figures I've just pointed out?  I'd been interested to know your assessment.


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Posted: 25 Apr 11, 04:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The Satyr... I think you're right about that one.
To be honest I never discovered that figure, but this one really looks like a Satyr and he is indeed looking under a gown.
The Nymph in yellow I cannot really see.

But all I did back then was reading the info on the internet and trying to complete it with my own thoughts.
I do have a high quality replica of the painting, bought at the Gallery, when I was there the painting was in storage and not on display... :-(

Thanks for pointing me the Satyr. Really good. Have to change my pic now :-)


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Posted: 25 Apr 11, 06:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I have looked at the picture again and changed a bit.
First I thought Tatterdemalion and a junketer was one person, but a tatterdemalion is a guy with old ragged clothes.
I cannot think of any figure than the one next to the dragonfly.
A junketer is a person who wants to get in favour with politicians etc. So I think the guy sitting next to the senator is the junketer.
I still think the nymph in yellow is the one I first thought it was.
See the new picture.

Attachment: 112425751714135.jpg 7 MB
This has been downloaded 13 time(s).



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Posted: 25 Apr 11, 14:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoB4qRkyldc

John was great. Great cover. I had to post this video, sorry for being off-topic.


John: "It's the one thing I wish I could do - sing."

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Posted: 26 Apr 11, 00:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Rien wrote: I have looked at the picture again and changed a bit.
First I thought Tatterdemalion and a junketer was one person, but a tatterdemalion is a guy with old ragged clothes.
I cannot think of any figure than the one next to the dragonfly.
A junketer is a person who wants to get in favour with politicians etc. So I think the guy sitting next to the senator is the junketer.
I still think the nymph in yellow is the one I first thought it was.
See the new picture.
________________________________________
Thanks for the new pic.   RE your nymph choice ... still not certain (possible gender problem with it)   - such a tiny character, but appears to be female and Freddie indicates a "fellow."  So just not sure what to make of it.  As for the rest ... beleive it works.


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Posted: 28 Apr 11, 13:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Keep in mind that every sentence can point out another figure. Freddie is looking at the picture and telling what figures he sees.

Nymph in yellow
What a quaere fellow

He's talking about 2 different figures, just as I said about "Tatterdemalion and a junketer"
I always thought he meant:  Tatterdemalion WITH a junketer.
Now I see these are 2 different figures too.


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Posted: 28 Apr 11, 18:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sorry Rien but it cannot be.   The Nymph in yellow and fellow ARE connected.  He is explaining further about the Nymph in this case.  The fact that it rhymes is not the only indicator of a connection.  Without the first part (Nymph in Yellow) - the 2nd part would make no sense on it's own, it would just be floating there by itself.  So you have to consider that a gender is, in fact, assigned to the Nymph when Freddie deliberately states "fellow."  That is why the original character I stated earlier as the potential Nymph could work on several levels:
1)  Has Nymph wings - so is a Nymph of some kind
2) Wears a dress and has red lips, yet the face is manish compared with other females in the painting, who have softer conventional female features 
3) The contradictions between the dress and the character of the face, I believe, may have led Freddie to point this character out as a rather strange type of fellow (not what a person expects upon meeting a Nymph).  
4) The scale of this particular character in the painting matches the scale of other significant characters mentioned ... with the exception of Queen Mab. 
5) Not too many characters are mentioned more than once in the song ... but the Nymph in yellow is mentioned 2x so it must have jumped out to Freddie that the Nymph needed to be a part of the song. Consider too that the Nymph is actually looking outward, while other characters look at the Feller or to the ground, this curious gaze may have further caught Freddie's attention.
6) And finally, let us contrast this Nymph with Freddie's own design of Nymphs used in the Queen crest, which are attractive female Nymphs.  This too may have caused Freddie to wonder why Dadd would paint such a curious looking Nymph (see points #2 & 3 above). 

Just my thoughts - but you can believe otherwise  as the world of Nymphs is vast and probably unknown ultimately.


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Posted: 30 Apr 11, 05:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

For the first time in your posts I read about a poem, Richard Dadd had written to explain the picture.
I did not know of it's existence. But I've found it, and will read it. Get back to you later :-)


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