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 Richard Dadd  (1817 - 1886)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: landscape, marine, fairy painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Richard Dadd was born in 1817, the son of a London chemist. He studied at the schools of the Royal Academy of Arts, where teachers cited him for his attention, good temper and diligence rather then for his talent. By the time he was twenty-five, he had begun to paint canvases illustrating old English legends of the "little people". He also painted landscapes, marine and animal subjects. He became a founding member of a group of artists known as "The Clique".

In 1842 Dadd traveled to the Middle East with his patron, Sir Thomas Phillips. The exhilaration of the journey was such that Dadd expressed doubt about his own sanity on his return to London. He entered the competition for the decoration of the Houses of Parliament, but after his design was rejected his mental health deteriorated. His father took him to the country for a rest and Dadd turned on his father and stabbed him through the heart. He fled to France, where he again stabbed someone and he was committed to London's historic Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, which has given its name to the language as bedlam (a Middle English variant of "Bethlehem").

Dadd spent the last forty years of his life in madhouses, dying, all but forgotten, in Broadmoor Hospital for the Criminally Insane in 1886. The fact was that Dadd, far from becoming one of those psychotic artists whose scribbles are only, or mainly, of interest to analysts, is thought to have painted many of his best works in the asylum.

Compiled and submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Time Magazine, April 25, 1969 and July 8, 1974

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