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Because of what, the brilliant Victorian artist Richard Dudd dealt with his father and ended up in the “yellow house”

A true artist, and even more so the founder of a new style in art, is supposed to be a little crazy. Sometimes outrageous makes the master a true legend. However, history knows examples when the great masters of painting and graphics in the most literal sense of the word went crazy – even to the point of going to institutions for the mentally ill, where their talent received a completely amazing embodiment.

Talented artist and founder of a new style

Richard Dudd was born in Chatham, Kent, in a family of cabinetmaker and artist. The father early noticed the abilities of his son and in every possible way contributed to their development. In 1837, twenty-year-old Richard was admitted to the Royal Academy of Arts.

In 1841, Dudd painted Sleeping Titania, a picture associated with the emergence of a new artistic genre – Victorian fairy-tale painting. This direction was developed by a group of artists who called themselves “The Clique”. It included, in addition to Dadd, August Egg, Alfred Elmore, U.P. Freight and others. It is interesting that the Kliki movement was aimed at breaking down the “retrograde traditions of the Academy of Arts that do not correspond to the traditions of modern art”, Dadd’s views are thus similar to the theses of the “Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions” that appeared later in Russia. The Klika developed the ideas of Gothic romanticism, Gothic, basing its art on folklore and the work of new writers, including Lewis Carroll, whose books about Alice had great success among readers at that time.

Sleeping Titania, exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, attracted the attention of many visitors, and with them Lord Thomas Phillips, who provided financial support to Richard Dadd for his trip to the Middle East and Egypt.
In 1842, the young artist went on this trip, and while sailing along the Nile River, while not in himself, he suddenly imagined himself to be the embodiment of the god Osiris.

The incident was initially considered the effects of a sunstroke, but the attacks during which Dudd lost control of himself repeated, and in 1843 he was declared insane. Richard’s father refused to send his son to an institution for the mentally ill, leaving him in the care of his family, and it cost him his life. In the same year, the young artist, taking in his delirium his father for the embodiment of Satan, killed him with a knife, and then disappeared, according to some reports, killing another person before being captured by police in Paris.

Dadd’s further destiny is connected with life in psychiatric hospitals – first the so-called Bedlam (Betlem) hospital, and then in Broadmoor. He probably suffered from schizophrenia, although some modern experts admit other diagnoses, such as bipolar personality disorder. In total, Dadd spent about forty years in hospitals, during which he did not stop creating.

The Betlema hospital was distinguished by an extremely progressive approach to the treatment of the mentally ill for that time. They did not use the usual means of physical influence, previously considered effective, living conditions were quite humane, in addition, patients, as can be seen in the example of Dudd, were given the opportunity to create. The artist’s work was greatly appreciated by Dr. J. G. Hayden, in whose control the hospital was located, he even commissioned Richard to work, which he then transferred to the Tate Gallery in London. Like, for example, the painting “The Masterful Swing of a Fabulous Lumberjack,” which Dudd wrote for nine years.

This work, with its incompleteness, which catches your eye in the foreground of the picture, gives the impression of a three-dimensional. It is impossible to just glance at her, strange creatures and a common plot, combining many small incomprehensible details, themselves force the viewer to consider and reflect. Why are the characters so enthusiastically looking at a nut that is about to fly apart under the blow of a powerful stone ax? The artist himself worked on the painting so carefully that he used a magnifying glass, and for the depth of perception, he wrote a poem in which he described each of the images on canvas.
The painting, in turn, became a source of inspiration for composers and writers; it is mentioned, in particular, in Robert Rankin’s novel Chiswick Witches.

Another famous work of Dadd, invented by him and created already in the hospital, is “Children’s Challenge”, where many details are fascinating and even frightening at once.

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