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Psychiatric masterpieces and other little-known facts about the artist Dadda, who spent 40 years in the Yellow House
Psychiatric masterpieces and other little-known facts about the artist Dadda, who spent 40 years in the Yellow House

A brilliant career and a bright future awaited him, he could live happily ever after, I do not know grief and troubles. But fate decreed otherwise, and one rash act literally turned the world of Richard Dadd upside down. Obsessed with voices in his own head, he was sent to a mental hospital, where he spent the next four decades painting his masterpieces from behind bars. But even though he lived in a psychiatric hospital, he became one of the most important artists of the 19th century, leaving behind a number of exciting paintings and a stormy biography.

Just like Brian Lewis Saunders' self-portraits under the influence of various drugs, Dadd's art raises questions about the connection between the mental state of the artist and his work.

When it comes to Victorian painters, Dadd stands out for his fabulous intensity, his fairies and gardens, and his interest in drawing weapons. In fact, he became a suspect in his father's murder when the police discovered portraits of his friends with their throats slit. Whether or not Richard's mental illness led to his creative genius, he is remembered as one of the most important Victorian painters, as well as an artist with a very unique and hectic personal life.

1. The most famous work of the artist was written behind bars

The Fabulous Lumberjack's Master Swing, Richard Dadd

Richard worked on his most detailed work, The Fabulous Lumberjack's Master Swing, for nine years. And all this time he painted while behind bars. In fact, he was unable to complete the painting because in 1864 he was transferred from the notorious British psychiatric hospital Bedlam to Broadmoor.

The fabulous image of Richard, seen through a curtain of grass, shows fairies including Oberon and Titania, Queen Mab and a forester chopping a chestnut. The artist also added visual references to his father in the painting, thus hinting at why he was imprisoned. Dadd stabbed his own father, and due to his mental illness, he was convinced that his dad was following him.

2. He killed his father and fled the country

Richard painted his works in a state of mania

After Richard established himself as an important orientalist painter, mental illness gradually took over his life. He began to suffer from mania, including an obsession with the Egyptian gods talking to him and telling him to commit murder.

On a summer evening in 1843, Dadd was walking with his father in a scenic park in Kent. When father and son were surrounded by elms, the artist suddenly hit his father with his fist and slashed him in the neck with a razor. Then Richard pulled out a knife and stabbed his father in the chest. After being stabbed, Dadd, who was only twenty-six years old, fled to France.

3. He spent the rest of his life behind bars

Talented madman

After killing his father, he boarded a train heading south from Paris. But his cruelty and obsession did not end: Richard attacked one of the passengers with a razor before being taken into custody.

The artist was extradited to England, where he was declared a "particularly dangerous madman" without trial or investigation. Eventually, he was sent to St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital, also known as Bedlam.From 1844 until his death in 1886, he lived behind bars in a psychiatric clinic. Many of his best works, including the eerie portrait of the physician Alexander Morison, were painted by Richard while sitting in a psychiatric hospital.

4. Voices and a secret message

Dadd visited Egypt

During a trip to Egypt, where he hoped to receive artistic inspiration, young Richard began to believe that he was receiving messages from the Egyptian god Osiris. This feeling first came to him when he saw a group of Egyptians smoking a hookah (water pipe). … After five days of continuous smoking, he decided that this was a message from Osiris.

After Richard committed murder, having dealt with his father, he began to claim that he is the son and messenger of God, chosen to destroy people possessed by demons.

5. He painted portraits of doctors and jailers

Portrait of a Young Man, Richard Dadd

While in custody, Richard often painted the staff of the psychiatric clinic, who encouraged his art. In one of his 1853 works, Portrait of a Young Man, Dadd portrayed his physician Charles Hood. This tense image, both dreamlike and surreal, is not at all like other paintings from the Victorian era, in part because the artist was completely cut off from the outside world.

For many years, Richard's only audience was his overseers, who trusted him so much that they allowed the artist to use knives and work in his own studio. He even painted murals for the Broadmoor Lounge.

6. Oddities after traveling in Egypt

Travel to the Middle East

Before getting to the mental hospital, Richard went to the Middle East to collect material for his paintings. In 1842, he visited Turkey, Syria and Egypt, creating paintings based on his experiences. This work earned him a reputation as an important Orientalist painter of the Victorian era. Among his works was a caravanserai at Milas in Asia Minor, which Dadd completed while in a psychiatric hospital.

However, this journey not only shook his artistic ability. The trip touched the young man deeply. On the way home to England, he began to behave very strangely, thereby causing anxiety to the family.

7. Thirty years later …

Richard was guided by the will of the gods

Thirty years after killing his father, Richard told his doctor that he was still not sure if he had committed this atrocity: he believed that he had killed a demon disguised as Robert Dadd. The artist admitted that "he was prompted to kill … at the request of the higher gods and spirits."

The last words of the son, addressed to the father, were:.

8. He painted portraits of his friends with their throats cut

August Egg, by Richard Dadd

For decades, Richard's doctors marveled at the apparent disconnect between their patient's mental illness and his skillful work. There was no hint of madness in Dadd's art. Scientist Nicholas Tromance notes: "This should not surprise us too much, since he did not consider himself sick, and in any case, we know that Richard believed that the creation of paintings, like all human activity, is at least partially governed by spirits." …

For Dadd's Victorian contemporaries, however, the connection between his fine paintings and the artist's mental state remained mysterious. One of Richard's doctors, Charles Hood, who was featured in Portrait of a Young Man, became a collector of his patient's work, eventually owning more than thirty of Dadd's paintings.

9. Madness that gave birth to masterpieces

Richard's work has visited many exhibitions

In the 1830s and early 1840s, before his mental breakdown, Richard was a promising artist. In the early 1920s, he was part of the Clique, a group of London-based artists including William Powell Frith and John Phillips, who were considered the stars of Victorian genre paintings.

In fact, Dadd's work was shown at the Royal Academy before he killed his father. And the imprisonment in a mental hospital did not stop the prolific artist.While imprisoned, Richard continued to explore many of the topics he wrote earlier in his career, including fairies and scenes from the Middle East.

10. Seizures

Dadd was considered a cruel man

The overseers of Dadd, who was imprisoned in Bedlam, kept records of the artist. Over the years, he remained incredibly violent. … Since 19th century medicine did not identify the cause of Richard's mental illness, he was simply declared insane.

11. Obsession and attempted assassination

The artist wanted to assassinate the Pope

Before his imprisonment in a mental hospital, Richard nearly attacked the Pope during a trip to Rome. He complained of a headache, and his travel companion began to notice the young artist's strange behavior. Since the two had just spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean, Richard's companion wondered if it was sunstroke. And then in Rome, Dadda was seized with a desire to attack the Pope.

Richard returned to England, where his family called a doctor. The doctor stated that the young man was not sane, but his family chose not to admit the artist to the hospital, who may have suffered from schizophrenia.

12. Recent years

Feyi, Richard Dadd

Towards the end of his life, Richard's doctors reported that he was quiet and rarely complained. He continued to paint and read many religious texts, including the Quran and Talmud. Dadd rarely interacted with other patients. In 1866, his doctors wrote that he "takes up most of his time painting, does not complain and seems rather happy."

Richard remained at Broadmoor until his death in 1886, at the age of sixty-eight. Regarding the link between his mental health and his artwork, Victoria Northwood, director of the Museum of Mind at Bethlem Hospital, notes that “after Richard Dadd fell ill, his appearance did not undergo any dramatic changes.” Despite his mental health problems. artist, he continued to create stunning works, earning himself a reputation as one of the most important artists of the Victorian era.

Millions are ready to pay for her paintings, and this despite the fact that most of her life, creating her hallucinogenic paintings that can cause dizziness and not only. So Richard Dadd was not the only artist who created his best masterpieces for forty years under the supervision of doctors.

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