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Richard Dadd


The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke

1855-64; Oil on canvas


    Today this is considered Richard Dadd's great masterpiece. He painted this piece for G.H. Haydon, Dr. Hood's assistant. G.H. Haydon also had an interest in art and did illustrations on the side. His brother, Samuel B. Haydon, was a sculpture who shared rooms with William Rosetti. He was in contact with the Rossettis, of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. In fact William Rossetti, the art critic, writer, and brother of Dante Gabriel Rosetti, came to visit Richard Dadd while he was in the hospital. He was quite curious about his art. G. H. Haydon helped to encourage Dadd in his art while he was at Bethlem Hospital. He also encouraged him to paint fairy subjects. Dadd wrote his own narrative verses to describe this painting. In 1974 this painting was exhibited with Dadd's verse:
 

... business
led, an official person to this sight
Who with the picture pleased
As 'twere a jewel bright,
His mind of burden eased,
To have the like
Of which did strike
At Fancy's shrine well meant

Some friends he had; who wrote in verse
About the fairies, sense as terse
As poets jam into a measured line
... so of his rhymes
Possessed, he wished to see
A little sketch, slight as may be
To illustrate the same. 2


 

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