Media File
Aelfred Fahey
Date: British Pre-Raphaelite painter, active 1902–1909
School: Pre-Raphaelite
Biography: Still a shadowy figure, but clearly an artist of great talent, Ælfred Fahey was born in 1876 or 1877, the son and grandson of artists of Irish origin who both exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. James Fahey (1804-1885) was a portrait and landscape painter, and a founding member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, while Edward Henry Fahey (1844-1907) painted both landscape and genre compositions, including Mirah, a subject from George Eliot's Daniel Deronda (1888, Royal Academy).

The census of 1881 records Edward Fahey, by then a widower, living in London with his aunts and his three young children, of whom the second was Alfred, recorded as being four years old. The amended name of Ælfred seems to have been adopted for Fahey's career as a painter, which began with study at the South Kensington and the St. John's Wood School of Art. He was exhibiting as early as 1896, with The Conception of the Cross and The Old Infirmary Garden, Westminster, presumably oil paintings (location unknown). As an assistant in the studio of the sculptor Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), Fahey also studied the work of Van Eyck and other northern Old Masters in Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges, where Gilbert had gone in 1901 after becoming bankrupt. Gilbert's daughter Charlotte (Caprina) eloped (against her parents' wishes) with Fahey from Bruges, and they were married in London in November 1901; Caprina's sister Mary had married Fahey's elder brother John in the previous year.

All three of Fahey's Royal Academy exhibits in 1902 were metal-point drawings of Bruges, and a subsequent exhibition of mostly architectural metal points, at Montague Fordham's gallery in Maddox Street in 1903, elicited the only known review of his work, in The Magazine of Art: this included the comment that he "is not so well known in England as in Germany, where his studies of Berlin street life have attracted a good deal of attention." An exhibitor at several other institutions, including the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and the Royal Hibernian Academy, he is known to have been living in 1909 at Ockham Mill, Woking, Surrey. After that date, however, no further trace of him can he found.

From "Biography of Aelfred Fahey (1876 or 77- after 1909)" by Stephen Wildman, in 'Waking Dreams: The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum' (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2004), p. 361.