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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 remained until his death
in 1886.

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