When condition was initially thought to be

When I received the theme ofnetworks I immediately thought of the complex and vexing web of the human mind,particularly the imagination and how it reacts to and conjures up fantasticalimages.

For me personally Fairy tales have always been an area of greatintrigue and are constantly floating around in my imagination. Mythology andFairy tales have been popular subjects in art for a vast number of years andhave been utilised by many different artists and explored in many differentways. Richard Dadd was an extremely popular artist in the Victorian Era, whocreated vast and busy Fairy paintings, a feast for the eyes of his audience. Hewas a most brilliant artist, and his personal life was just as captivating ashis art works. In this essay I will carry out research and exploration intoDadd’s life as well as analysis of some of his works. I will also compare theDadd’s work to that of the contemporary fairy tale illustrator Kate Cosgrove.

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Obviouslythese are two different artists working in two very different times andappealing to two very different audiences however, they are both ultimatelyresponding to the same fantastical theme. And so, I hope to draw a meaningfulconclusion from how their varying aims have affected how they approached thetopic.Richard Dadd is an Englishartist, born in Kent and educated at King’s School in Rochester where histalent for drawing caught peoples attention at a very early age. He laterfounded a group of English artists, referred to as “The Clique”, who shared aview that art should be valued and judged by the public and not by its “conformityto academic ideals” which placed a heavy weighting on fact, history andtradition being portrayed in artwork.

He was a most popular artist of the time,winning awards and being viewed as the leading talent of “The Clique”, his lifewas on track. However, In July 1842 Dadd embarked on an expedition throughEurope, accompanying a former mayor. Nearing the end of December 1842, the twowere travelling up the Nileby boat as Dadd underwent a stark personality change, growing delusional, becomingincreasingly violent and even believed he was under the influence of anEgyptian god. Dadd’s condition was initially thought to be sunstrokebut now it is thought that he likely suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Uponhis return home in 1843, he was diagnosed to be of unsound mind and entrustedto his family who took him to recover in a countryside village in Kent. Notlong after, in the summer of the same year, Dadd’s condition escalated andhaving become convinced that his father was “the Devil in disguise” hekilled him with a knife and fled to France.

However, on his way to Paris, Daddattempted to murder another tourist and was arrested by police and laterconfessed to killing his father. He was brought back to England and wascommitted to Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital, also knownas “Bedlam”. After 20 years there, Dadd was moved to a high security facilityoutside London where he remained until his death in 1886. 540 x 394 mm   During his timespent in the Bethlem and Broadmoor asylums Dadd was encouraged to carry onpainting which ultimately led to him creating many of his masterpieces in theseplaces. In fact “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”(see below) which Dadd began working on in 1855 was painted for H.G. Haydon, ahospital official at ‘Bedlam’. This oil painting, although unfinished due tohis relocation to Broadmoor, is widely considered Dadd’s greatest masterpieceand it is obvious why.

Upon first glance at this piece, it is immediately apparentthat the detail is so vast it is hard to comprehend all it contains, especiallygiven the small scale of the piece. Fortunately for us, Dadd later wrote a poementitled ‘Elimination of a Picture & its subject – called The Feller’s MasterStroke’. It is long and tedious but ultimately was a great help to critics whentrying to analyse the piece. Almost all of the characters presented in thepainting were derived wholly from the artist’s own imagination.

This leads meto the heart of my project as I have attempted to convey well known fairy-talecharacters, that have been planted in my mind since I was a young child, in anartistic way, as Dadd does with his owncharacter creations. The only contradiction in this piece is Dadd’s inclusion ofShakespeare characters Oberon and Titania, just above the centre of thepainting.


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