Richard Dadd (English
Richard Dadd was born in Chatham in 1817 and died in Broadmoor
Hospital, Berkshire in 1886. He began formally studying art at the Royal
Academy Schools in 1837. He founded a group of artists called the "The
Clique." His early compositions such as Titania Sleeping showed
hints of his incredible compositions of his later years.
Dadd's life would change drastically in
the 1840s. In 1842 Dadd took a trip to the Middle East with his patron,
Sir Thomas Phillips. This trip agitated and disturbed him and he began
to doubt his own sanity when he returned to London. He then entered a competition
for the decoration of the House of Parliament, when his design was rejected
his mental health began to seriously decline. Others noticed that his behavior
had become more and more eccentric.
He was suffering from the symptoms of
schizophrenia and was hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations which
were accompanied by delusions. He came to believe that his father was the
devil and this culminated in the murder of his father he also attempted
a murder of another person, a stranger, because he believed he was being
directed to do these things. This resulted in his incarceration in the
Bethlem Hospital ward for the criminally insane for the rest of his life.
Strangely enough, some of his best works
were composed in this setting. He was fortunate because he had psychiatrists
and a family who encouraged him in his paintings even after his illness.
His most prominent paintings Contraditction: Oberon and Titania and The
Fairy Feller's Masterstroke were conceived of in the hospital. These painting
were made for members of the staff at the hospital. He spent a total of
13 years working on these paintings feverishly. These paintings are truly
extraordinary and the degree of detail displayed is amazing.
To view his artwork click on the links below. Each painting
and the circumstances surrounding it are described in more detail.
Contradiction: Oberon and Titania
The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke
1. Christian, John. Symbolists and Decadents. Park South Books,
New York: 1977.
2. Maas, Jeremy. Victorian Fairy Painting. Merrell Holberton
Publishers, London: 1997.
by Jeremy Maas
This book is excellent
an excellent source of high quality faery art. It features all the famous
Victorian illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Du Lac, John Anster
Fitzgerald, and many more. Click the link to learn more.
3. MacGregor, John M. The Discovery of the Art of the Insane.
Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersery: 1989.
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