When his profound artistic talent became evident

When I received the theme of
networks I immediately thought of the complex and vexing web of the human mind,
particularly the imagination and how it reacts to and conjures up fantastical
images. For me personally, Fairy tales have always been an area of great
intrigue and are constantly floating around in my imagination. Mythology and
Fairy tales have been popular subjects in art for a vast number of years and
have been explored by numerous artists in many different ways. Richard Dadd was
an extremely popular artist in the Victorian Era, who produced vast and busy
Fairy paintings, creating a feast for the eyes of his audience. He was a most
brilliant artist, and his personal life was just as captivating as his art
works. In this essay I will carry out research and exploration into Dadd’s life
as well as analysis of some of his works. I will also compare Dadd’s work to
that of the contemporary fairy tale illustrator Kate Cosgrove, an artist whose
work was created in a very different time, in order to appeal to a very
different audience. However, the two artists are ultimately both responding to
the same fantastical theme and I hope to draw a meaningful conclusion from how
their varying aims have affected how they approached this topic. Finally, I
will be explaining how I feel Dadd has influenced my own course of study this
year and how his work has inspired me when handling a similar theme.

Richard Dadd was born in
Kent, England, on 1st August 1817 and his profound artistic talent
became evident at a very young age resulting to his enrolment at the Royal
Academy of Arts when he was only 20 years old. At this time Academic art was
the most popular, which required artists to draw inspiration from the past,
particularly medieval and classical art and culture. Dadd was the founder of a
group of English artists, referred to as “The Clique”, who disagreed with this
and shared a common view that art should be valued and judged by the public and
not by its conformity to these academic ideals. Dadd was an extremely well
known and popular artist of the time, he won awards for his life drawing and
was generally viewed as the leading talent of “The Clique”, his life was on
track for continued success. However, great change followed after Dadd’s return
from an expedition through Europe he had embarked on in1842. At a point during
the trip, when the two were travelling up the Nile by boat, Dadd underwent a stark personality change, growing delusional
and becoming increasingly violent. At the time Dadd’s condition was thought to
be sunstroke but now it is largely agreed that he likely suffered
from paranoid schizophrenia. When he returned home, he was diagnosed as being
of “unsound mind” and was placed into the care of his family, who took him to
the countryside in order to aid his recovery. However, this was to no avail as,
not much later, Dadd’s condition worsened and, after become convinced that his
father was the “Devil in disguise”, he stabbed
and killed him and fled to France. But, his escape was unsuccessful as, on his
way to Paris, Dadd attempted to murder another tourist and was apprehended by
police and brought back to England. He was then committed to Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital, also
known as “Bedlam” and after 20 years spent there, Dadd was relocated to the
high security facility, Broadmoor Hospital, where he was held until his death
in 1886.

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