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The killer Richard Dadd – a prominent nineteenth-century artist. Dadd murdered his own father on 28th August 1843: he was declared insane. Professor David Wilson, Broadmoor: A History of the Criminally Insane I, CI 2013
For Richard Dadd fairies were an image that was always lurking at the margins of reality to rob men and women of their reason. Howard Jacobson, The Genius of British Art: Flesh, Channel 4 2010
One of the greatest scandals the art world has ever seen. Could it be by the most daring forger of modern times? ... It’s called Lost on the Grand Banks. Fake or Fortune? III BBC 2011
In July 1842 he left England with Sir Thomas Phillips (1801–67), accompanying him through Europe and the Middle East to make drawings. Dadd returned from this journey in May 1843 showing unmistakable signs of insanity. He stabbed his father to death. In August 1844 he was certified insane. In 1864 he was transferred to the newly built criminal lunatic asylum at Broadmoor (nr Crowthorne, Berks), where he died of consumption.
He continued to paint throughout nearly 42 years of confinement. He appears to have had at least one of his own sketchbooks with him but otherwise relied chiefly on his imagination and a strong visual memory. His most remarkable watercolours are the small landscapes, shipping scenes and occasional fancy subjects, some smaller than a postcard, which were painted with the tip of a very fine brush using a technique that he refined and perfected over many years. Tate online
The artist Richard Dadd seemed destined for greatness when he took a life-changing tour across the Middle-East at the age of 25: he had been admitted to the Royal Academy at the precocious age of 20 and was a leading light of The Clique, a Victorian circle of ambitious young painters.
So when he started behaving erratically in the last leg of the 10-month trip, his increasingly bizarre behaviour and the outlandish assertion that he was acting under the influence of the Egyptian god Osiris was dismissed as an acute case of sunstroke.
We now know it was the start of delusional episodes and psychotic behaviour that culminated in murder on 29 August 1843, when he lured his father, Robert Dadd, to a park in Kent, and stabbed him to death. He fled by boat to France, in such a confused and manic state that he later said he was on his way to assassinate Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria.
He was arrested after attacking a French passenger with a razor and brought back to England. It was this troubled night, on 30 August 1843, that was to be his last as a free man. He spent the rest of his years incarcerated, until his death in 1886. Yet he was to become a great and influential painter while held in Britain’s notorious psychiatric prison, Bethlem (commonly referred to by its nickname of Bedlam), and later being transferred to the newly built Broadmoor in 1864. The Independent online article 30th August 2011, ‘Richard Dadd: Masterpieces of the Asylum’
Richard Dadd was a phenomenally successful fairy painter who was admitted to the Royal Academy at the age of only 20. Jeremy Paxman, The Victorians IV: Dreams & Nightmares, BBC 2009
Broadmoor let Dadd have a studio. Inside Broadmoor, 2002