When two very different times and appealingWhen two very different times and appealing

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 utilised by many different artists and explored in many different ways. Richard Dadd was an extremely popular artist in the Victorian Era, who created vast and busy Fairy paintings, 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 the Dadd’s work to that of the contemporary fairy tale illustrator Kate Cosgrove. Obviously these are two different artists working in two very different times and appealing to two very different audiences however, they are both ultimately responding to the same fantastical theme. And so, I hope to draw a meaningful conclusion from how their varying aims have affected how they approached the topic. Richard Dadd is an English artist, born in Kent and educated at King’s School in Rochester where people took notice by his talent for drawing at a very early age. He later founded a group of English artists, referred to as “The Clique”, who had a common view that art should be valued and judged by the public and not by its “conformity to academic ideals” which highly valued fact, history and tradition 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 life was on track. However, In July 1842 Dadd embarked on an expedition through Europe, accompanying a former mayor. Nearing the end of December 1842, the two were travelling up the Nile by boat as 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 said that he probably suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. When he returned home, he was diagnosed to be of unsound mind and given into the care of his family who took him to the countryside to recover. Not long after Dadd’s condition worsened and having become convinced that his father was “the Devil in disguise” he murdered him and fled to France. However, on his way, Dadd make an effort to kill another tourist and was arrested by police. He was brought back to England and was committed to Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital, also known as “Bedlam”. After 20 years spent there, Dadd was relocated to the high security facility, Broadmoor, outside London where he remained until his death in 1886. 540 x 394 mm   During his time spent in the Bethlem and Broadmoor asylums Dadd was encouraged to carry on painting which ultimately led to him creating many of his masterpieces in these places. In fact “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke” (see below) which Dadd began working on in 1855 was painted for H.G. Haydon, a hospital official at ‘Bedlam’. This oil painting, although unfinished due to his relocation to Broadmoor, is widely considered Dadd’s greatest masterpiece and it is obvious why. Upon first glance at this piece, it is immediately apparent that the detail is so vast it is hard to comprehend all it contains, especially given the small scale of the piece. Fortunately for us, Dadd later wrote a poem entitled ‘Elimination of a Picture & its subject – called The Feller’s Master Stroke’. It is long and tedious but ultimately was a great help to critics when trying to analyse the piece. Almost all of the characters presented in the painting were derived wholly from the artist’s own imagination. This leads me to the heart of my project as I have attempted to convey well known fairy-tale characters, that have been planted in my mind since I was a young child, in an artistic way, as Dadd does with his own character creations. The only contradiction in this piece is Dadd’s inclusion of Shakespeare characters Oberon and Titania, just above the centre of the painting. This was not the only time Dadd explored these two Shakespearean characters as they were the focus of another piece entitled “Contradiction: Oberon and Titania” which depicts Act II, Scene I of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The image below shows Dadd working on this piece while being held in Bethlam Asylum. He was photographed by Henry Hering who often catches his subjects eyes fixed in a “peculiar, unfocused stare”, which has a particularly striking impact here given all we know about Dadd’s history. In 1987 a long-lost watercolour by Dadd, The Artist’s Halt in the Desert, was discovered by Peter Nahum on the BBC TV programme Antiques Roadshow. Made while the artist was incarcerated, it is based on sketches made during his tour of the Middle East, and shows his party encamped by the Dead Sea, with Dadd at the far right.  It was later sold for £100,000 to the British Museum.      Kate Cosgrove is a modern artist and illustrator from Michigan who received the Barbara Deming Grant in 2016, a memorial fund founded in 1975 to provide financial support for creative women, and the Arts Council Individual Artist Grant in 2011 for her art show, ‘Animal ArtVenture’. Cosgrove’s work has been exhibited in galleries across the globe, including the United States, Canada, England, Australia and France.