Paton's painting is an imaginative interpretation of an incident in Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, quarrel over the possession of a changeling (a human child, carried off to the fairy realm and replaced by a fairy child). The main figures are surrounded by a host of smaller fairy creatures, some grotesque, others beautiful, whose supernatural character excused their sensual appearance and behaviour. The painting was judged to be 'picture of the season' when exhibited in Edinburgh in 1850. Later it captivated Lewis Carroll (the author of 'Alice in Wonderland') who counted 165 fairies.