7 November 2015 – 6 February 2016
London

A major retrospective of Victorian artist Richard Dadd (1817-1886), who created a significant amount of work while detained as a ‘criminal lunatic’ at Bethlem Royal Hospital. Developed in partnership with the Watts Gallery, the exhibition brings together works spanning Dadd’s life, including rarely-seen paintings from public and private collections.

Richard Dadd (1817-1886) was an exact contemporary of G F Watts, and their early careers had much in common. They were both students at the Royal Academy, admirers of the Parthenon Marbles and travelled abroad in the 1840s. As Watts was seen as the great hope of allegorical and large-scale public painting, Dadd was recognised as the most brilliant modern exponent of highly detailed imaginative literary illustration, with a special talent for interpreting Shakespeare. Sadly, Dadd’s great promise was not professionally fulfilled after he fell into mental illness in his twenties, killing his father and being detained permanently at Bethlem and later Broadmoor hospitals.

Bethlem Hospital, a medieval foundation, was in Dadd’s day in Lambeth (the building now houses the Imperial War Museum) and survives today in Beckenham, in the distant south-eastern suburbs of London. ‘Bethlem’ derives from the original name of Bethlehem and in turn gave rise to the colloquial ‘bedlam’, suggesting mad chaos. But at Bethlem, and indeed even at Broadmoor, Dadd’s wonderfully original art thrived. Using the many drawings he had made while touring the Middle East in the ‘forties, and referring back always to his beloved Shakespeare, Dadd’s minutely executed paintings and watercolours emerged, almost miraculously, from a place associated – traditionally and perhaps unfairly – only with misery.

The exhibition of Dadd’s work, the most ambitious in decades, will tell his extraordinary story of genius, psychosis and eventual philosophical resignation to his fate. It will bring together some of the artist’s most brilliant works, including his masterpiece, The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, generously lent by Tate. Other highlights will include Dadd’s series of Illustrations of the Passions, his own protracted interpretation – witty, strange and touching in turn – of the causes of insanity.

Exhibition open 11.00 – 17.00. Free entry (suggested donation £2).

More information: www.museumofthemind.org.uk | www.wattsgallery.org.uk

Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketchbook (1843) - Graphite on paper in leather-bound sketchbook - 102 x 170mm - 19th century leather-bound sketchbook with fifty-one leaves and a brass fore-edge clasp - Contains graphite sketches and artist's notes - Twenty-seven leaves left blank - With a few exceptions the text is very cramped and thus difficult to read - Subjects sketched include sandals, sailing ships, herons, lions, trees, faces, Arabs, landscapes, flora and fauna - The book has been used beginning from both ends, so the pages at the back appear upside down - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketchbook (1843) – Graphite on paper in leather-bound sketchbook – 102 x 170mm – 19th century leather-bound sketchbook with fifty-one leaves and a brass fore-edge clasp – Contains graphite sketches and artist’s notes – Twenty-seven leaves left blank – With a few exceptions the text is very cramped and thus difficult to read – Subjects sketched include sandals, sailing ships, herons, lions, trees, faces, Arabs, landscapes, flora and fauna – The book has been used beginning from both ends, so the pages at the back appear upside down – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch of an Idea for Crazy Jane (1855) - Watercolour on paper - 355 x 254mm - 19th century painting depicting a young woman in ragged clothing, with flowers and feathers in her hair and ribbons around her arms, raises her arms above her head - She holds a branch in one hand and some shorn corn in the other - She stares fixedly at the viewer, her hair, long and flowing, partially covers her face - In the background, below, is the ruins of a castle amongst the landscape, black birds fly in droves around her and the castle - One of Dadd's finest and most lyrical watercolours, it illustrates the popular ballad of "Poor Crazy Jane", the tale of a girl driven mad by her lover's desertion - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch of an Idea for Crazy Jane (1855) – Watercolour on paper – 355 x 254mm – 19th century painting depicting a young woman in ragged clothing, with flowers and feathers in her hair and ribbons around her arms, raises her arms above her head – She holds a branch in one hand and some shorn corn in the other – She stares fixedly at the viewer, her hair, long and flowing, partially covers her face – In the background, below, is the ruins of a castle amongst the landscape, black birds fly in droves around her and the castle – One of Dadd’s finest and most lyrical watercolours, it illustrates the popular ballad of “Poor Crazy Jane”, the tale of a girl driven mad by her lover’s desertion – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Brutality (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 362 x 256mm - 19th century painting depicting the interior of a fisherman's cottage - A man raises his arm to his wife, she shudders in fear, while their child pulls on his father's back in protection - From the door another family looks in on the scene, the man carrying a basket of fish above his head laughs agreeably, the woman is bowed in front of him with her hand held up to her head, tears are running down her face, a small boy is staring up at her - On the floor beneath the action is an open bible and an upturned stall - The scene is set in a fisherman's cottage such as Dadd might have seen in his childhood home of Chatham in Kent - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Brutality (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 362 x 256mm – 19th century painting depicting the interior of a fisherman’s cottage – A man raises his arm to his wife, she shudders in fear, while their child pulls on his father’s back in protection – From the door another family looks in on the scene, the man carrying a basket of fish above his head laughs agreeably, the woman is bowed in front of him with her hand held up to her head, tears are running down her face, a small boy is staring up at her – On the floor beneath the action is an open bible and an upturned stall – The scene is set in a fisherman’s cottage such as Dadd might have seen in his childhood home of Chatham in Kent – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Battle or Vengeance (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 352 x 250mm - 19th century painting depicting a medieval battlefield in full throw with soldiers in suits of armour pitted against one another - Three characters are portrayed in greater detail - A soldier lying injured on the ground, another stands over him with arms stretched in the air, he holds a shield and mace, the mace is menacingly poised at another soldier who bends down in fear, he is staring right at the offensive weapon - The heraldic shields and plumage on helmets are the few articles on the battlefield painted in colour - Dadd's fondness for painting armour and weapons finds scope in this medieval battle scene - His skill in expressing movement through his composition is also seen - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Battle or Vengeance (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 352 x 250mm – 19th century painting depicting a medieval battlefield in full throw with soldiers in suits of armour pitted against one another – Three characters are portrayed in greater detail – A soldier lying injured on the ground, another stands over him with arms stretched in the air, he holds a shield and mace, the mace is menacingly poised at another soldier who bends down in fear, he is staring right at the offensive weapon – The heraldic shields and plumage on helmets are the few articles on the battlefield painted in colour – Dadd’s fondness for painting armour and weapons finds scope in this medieval battle scene – His skill in expressing movement through his composition is also seen – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Grief or Sorrow (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 352 x 250mm - 19th century painting depicting a monochrome image of a tomb in woodland - A female statue holding an urn is carved into the tomb - Death can be seen above the tomb (a skeleton in a hooded cloak, carrying a sickle) - This picture represents a more symbolic interpretation of its subject than any of the others in the series - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Grief or Sorrow (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 352 x 250mm – 19th century painting depicting a monochrome image of a tomb in woodland – A female statue holding an urn is carved into the tomb – Death can be seen above the tomb (a skeleton in a hooded cloak, carrying a sickle) – This picture represents a more symbolic interpretation of its subject than any of the others in the series – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Murder (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 360 x 258mm - 19th century painting depicting Cain who stares into the viewer with wide-eyed horror - He is crouched over the body of his brother Abel, his weapon, a club, is rested from action on Abel's chest - Blood pours from a wound on Abel's head - The clothes they are wearing are simple garments, adding to the prehistoric, "cave-man" feeling of the painting, suggesting the animal instinct of the man - In the top left-hand corner is a fire - The archetypal murder scene between Cain and Abel is shown here, rather than the one between son and father with which Dadd would have been more familiar - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Murder (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 360 x 258mm – 19th century painting depicting Cain who stares into the viewer with wide-eyed horror – He is crouched over the body of his brother Abel, his weapon, a club, is rested from action on Abel’s chest – Blood pours from a wound on Abel’s head – The clothes they are wearing are simple garments, adding to the prehistoric, “cave-man” feeling of the painting, suggesting the animal instinct of the man – In the top left-hand corner is a fire – The archetypal murder scene between Cain and Abel is shown here, rather than the one between son and father with which Dadd would have been more familiar – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Anger (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 362 x 260mm - 19th century painting depicting the interior of a blacksmith's forge - Two men are illuminated by the flames of the fire - The man on the right wears a hat and apron, he holds an iron in the fire, while looking at the second man - On the left, this well-built gentleman appears to hold a broken staff - As an illustration of "anger" the subject is not entirely clear - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Anger (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 362 x 260mm – 19th century painting depicting the interior of a blacksmith’s forge – Two men are illuminated by the flames of the fire – The man on the right wears a hat and apron, he holds an iron in the fire, while looking at the second man – On the left, this well-built gentleman appears to hold a broken staff – As an illustration of “anger” the subject is not entirely clear – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Disappointment (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 362 x 260mm - 19th century painting depicting a man who seated at a table is caused to spill his drink by another man reaching over his head for a cloak - The men appear in period costume - The illustration is detailed and the colours pale - This picture shows a literal representation of the proverb (included in Dadd's inscription), "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip" - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Disappointment (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 362 x 260mm – 19th century painting depicting a man who seated at a table is caused to spill his drink by another man reaching over his head for a cloak – The men appear in period costume – The illustration is detailed and the colours pale – This picture shows a literal representation of the proverb (included in Dadd’s inscription), “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip” – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Deceit or Duplicity (1854) - Watercolour on paper - 360 x 259mm - 19th century painting depicting a robed figure who sits crossed-legged on the feet of a statue, with a hand resting on a skull - The figure is aged and grimaced, but holds in front of their face a mask of a young woman - On the bottom of the statue (to the bottom left of the picture) is an intricate and colourful picture of a young, naked Venusesque woman, with a part-man, part-serpent creature looking up to her from below, his tail is wrapped around a fruit tree and it presents the lady with an apple - Hills and lakes make up the background - In this puzzling composition, the head of the serpent in the small vignette appears to contain a portrait of Dadd's father - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Deceit or Duplicity (1854) – Watercolour on paper – 360 x 259mm – 19th century painting depicting a robed figure who sits crossed-legged on the feet of a statue, with a hand resting on a skull – The figure is aged and grimaced, but holds in front of their face a mask of a young woman – On the bottom of the statue (to the bottom left of the picture) is an intricate and colourful picture of a young, naked Venusesque woman, with a part-man, part-serpent creature looking up to her from below, his tail is wrapped around a fruit tree and it presents the lady with an apple – Hills and lakes make up the background – In this puzzling composition, the head of the serpent in the small vignette appears to contain a portrait of Dadd’s father – Inscribed by the artist
 Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Lucretia - A Sketch (1854) - Watercolour on brown paper - 352 x 250mm - 19th century painting depicting a woman (Lucretia Borgia, 1480-1519), bearing a resemblance to Queen Victoria - She holds a dagger towards her chest, she is clothed in a red robe which she holds in place - She is in profile, her roman nose emphasized, her long dark tresses are partially gripped at the front, the rest hangs in waves - Inscribed by the artist

Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Lucretia – A Sketch (1854) – Watercolour on brown paper – 352 x 250mm – 19th century painting depicting a woman (Lucretia Borgia, 1480-1519), bearing a resemblance to Queen Victoria – She holds a dagger towards her chest, she is clothed in a red robe which she holds in place – She is in profile, her roman nose emphasized, her long dark tresses are partially gripped at the front, the rest hangs in waves – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Self-Conceit or Vanity (1854) - Watercolour on brown paper - 352 x 248mm - 19th century painting depicting a bearded man in striped hose who is admiring himself in a mirror - Behind him is another more simply dressed young man who tries to catch the others attention by beckoning him to a letter in his hand - Shakespearian-style costumes are worn, the background detail of the setting is faint and unobtrusive to the central characters, it portrays a peacock and Britanniaesque figure - The peacock echoes the vain young man's dandified dress, which includes a peacock feather - Although a Shakespearian-looking scene, this is not known to illustrate any particular play - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Self-Conceit or Vanity (1854) – Watercolour on brown paper – 352 x 248mm – 19th century painting depicting a bearded man in striped hose who is admiring himself in a mirror – Behind him is another more simply dressed young man who tries to catch the others attention by beckoning him to a letter in his hand – Shakespearian-style costumes are worn, the background detail of the setting is faint and unobtrusive to the central characters, it portrays a peacock and Britanniaesque figure – The peacock echoes the vain young man’s dandified dress, which includes a peacock feather – Although a Shakespearian-looking scene, this is not known to illustrate any particular play – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Insignificance or Self-Contempt (1854) - Watercolour on brown paper - 352 x 250mm - 19th century painting depicting a small, shabby man with oversized attire, carrying a large portfolio, who is cleaning his boots outside the entrance of the "Crayon Drawing Master" - The figure is a caricature of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), remembered from Dadd's student days at the Royal Academy - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Insignificance or Self-Contempt (1854) – Watercolour on brown paper – 352 x 250mm – 19th century painting depicting a small, shabby man with oversized attire, carrying a large portfolio, who is cleaning his boots outside the entrance of the “Crayon Drawing Master” – The figure is a caricature of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), remembered from Dadd’s student days at the Royal Academy – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Agony - Raving Madness (1854) - Watercolour on brown paper - 352 x 250mm - 19th century painting depicting a "mad-man" with his arms chained together and a further chain around his waist - One of his arms is up-stretched, the other hand clasps his head, and he sits on a straw-strewn floor naked except for cloths around his middle - The figure represents the conventional image of a chained lunatic lying on straw, rather than anything that Dadd could have seen in Bethlem during his own time - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Agony – Raving Madness (1854) – Watercolour on brown paper – 352 x 250mm – 19th century painting depicting a “mad-man” with his arms chained together and a further chain around his waist – One of his arms is up-stretched, the other hand clasps his head, and he sits on a straw-strewn floor naked except for cloths around his middle – The figure represents the conventional image of a chained lunatic lying on straw, rather than anything that Dadd could have seen in Bethlem during his own time – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Sketch to Illustrate the Passions - Hatred (1853) - Watercolour on paper - 353 x 257mm - 19th century painting depicting Richard, Duke of Gloucester (1452-1485) standing above his victim, the lifeless body of King Henry VI (1421-1471) covered by a cloak - They are pictured in traditional Shakespearian costume and a classical setting of a castle or temple - Wielded sword drips spots of blood onto the ground - Colours used are pale and watery, articulate detail - The scene illustrated is from Shakespeare's "Henry VI", showing the murder of the king by Richard Duke of Gloucester, but is probably a fairly accurate representation of Dadd's own killing of his father - Inscribed by artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Sketch to Illustrate the Passions – Hatred (1853) – Watercolour on paper – 353 x 257mm – 19th century painting depicting Richard, Duke of Gloucester (1452-1485) standing above his victim, the lifeless body of King Henry VI (1421-1471) covered by a cloak – They are pictured in traditional Shakespearian costume and a classical setting of a castle or temple – Wielded sword drips spots of blood onto the ground – Colours used are pale and watery, articulate detail – The scene illustrated is from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI”, showing the murder of the king by Richard Duke of Gloucester, but is probably a fairly accurate representation of Dadd’s own killing of his father – Inscribed by artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Self Portrait (1841) - Ink on paper - 133 x 114mm - 19th century etching depicting a self portrait of the artist as a young man, with shoulder-length hair and a side-parting - The lines are short and sketchy - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Self Portrait (1841) – Ink on paper – 133 x 114mm – 19th century etching depicting a self portrait of the artist as a young man, with shoulder-length hair and a side-parting – The lines are short and sketchy – Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) - Elimination of a Picture and its Subject - called The (Fairy) Feller's Master Stroke (1865) - Ink on paper in bound notebook - 191 x 119mm - 19th century notebook of twenty-four leaves with contemporary marbled boards - The pages are pale blue/grey, unlined and watermarked 1861 - The binding is held together with two long stitches (off-centre towards the top) the thread tied at the centrefold - The text is written on the recto of each leaf only - The lines of the poem are at first kept separate, but from the middle onwards they are generally run-on - The writing on the last page is very cramped - Inscribed by the artist
Dadd, Richard (1817-1886) – Elimination of a Picture and its Subject – called The (Fairy) Feller’s Master Stroke (1865) – Ink on paper in bound notebook – 191 x 119mm – 19th century notebook of twenty-four leaves with contemporary marbled boards – The pages are pale blue/grey, unlined and watermarked 1861 – The binding is held together with two long stitches (off-centre towards the top) the thread tied at the centrefold – The text is written on the recto of each leaf only – The lines of the poem are at first kept separate, but from the middle onwards they are generally run-on – The writing on the last page is very cramped – Inscribed by the artist
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