United Kingdom • 1817−1886

Biography and information

Richard Dudd (August 1, 1817, Chatham - January 7, 1886, Crowthorne) - English painter, one of the largest representatives of Victorian fairy-tale painting.

Features of the artist Richard Dudd: Dudd became famous for his paintings, which portrayed fairies and other supernatural creatures in mysterious genre scenes. The artist worked in the style of neoclassicism, gravitated to great detail in the works that he wrote over the years. Most of the paintings glorifying him were created at a time when he was a patient in mental hospitals - Bedlam and Broadmoor.

Famous paintings by artist Richard Dudd: Sleeping Titania, “Oh, come to these yellow sands”, "Master swing of a fabulous lumberjack", "Pack", "Dispute: Oberon and Titania".

Richard Dudd was the fourth of seven (according to other sources - eight) children in the family of Robert and Mary Ann Dudd. As a child, he studied at the Royal School in Rochester, where he woke up with a love of classical literature and Shakespeare, and at 13, the boy was seriously interested in drawing. Five years later, the Dudd family moved to London, where they settled on Suffolk Street in Pall Mall. Richard's father, a chemist trained, a former pharmacist, changed his role and got a job as a woodcarver, and also carried out orders for gilding and casting from bronze. Clients of Dadd Sr. paid attention to a talented young man - this is how Richard met artists and art patrons, and perhaps took private lessons from some. In December 1837 he was admitted to the Royal Academy.

Academy of Arts and The Clique
At the Academy, Dudd made friends with the Scotsman John Phillip, who later married Richard's sister, Mary Elizabeth, andBy William Powell who played a significant role in the development of Victorian genre painting. Later, artists entered this circle.August Egg , Henry Nelson O'Neill, Alfred Elmore, Edward ward, and William Bell Scott. They formed a group that became known to contemporaries as “The Clique” - “the first group of British artists who united for greater strength and announced that the great backwardness of the traditions of the Academy of Arts was not related to the requirements of contemporary art”. The society was a sketch and discussion club. Once a week, artists gathered in Dadd’s apartment, where they made drawings on one common theme for everyone, and then discussed them. Note that in the 1850s, most members of the Klika became the avid enemies of the Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites, believing that their art is deliberately eccentric and primitive.

Dudd was a very talented student: from the first year he began to exhibit at the British Association of Artists. Over the years of study at the Academy, his skill was noted with three silver medals. In 1840, Dudd began work in illustration, creating woodcuts for The Book of British Ballads and The Kentile Coronale. In 1841, he presented one of his best early works, Sleeping Titania, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and one year later, another successful work, Oh Come to These Yellow Sands, inspired by Ariel’s dream, at an academic exhibition. from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

From Titania to the curse of Osiris
Sleeping Titania was a huge success, which attracted the attention of an influential philanthropist, Sir Thomas Phillips. He invited a young artist to accompany him on a big tour of Europe and the Middle East as a sketcher of travel experiences. For less than six months, they saw the Rhine and the Alps, visited Venice and Alcona, Athens and Constantinople. And behind them are Cyprus, Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem and Egypt. This is where the first changes in the character of the young artist began. A cheerful, witty and energetic young man experienced a real spiritual drama: it seemed to him as if the spirit of the Egyptian god Osiris, the king of the afterlife, had infused him. Dadd became aggressive, suffered from paranoid illusions of persecution, tried to kill the Pope in Rome, and by the time the travelers arrived in Paris became completely unbearable. According to modern doctors, Dudd suffered from manic-depressive or bipolar disorder: he dreamed of voices, Osiris called on him to fight with the devil, who could take the form and image of any person from his environment. From which it can be concluded that in the Nile Valley the artist did not overtake a “sunstroke” at all, as was originally supposed.

Bloody drama
Returning to London, Dudd became very unsociable, but continued to paint. His father, preoccupied with Richard’s brother George, who showed all the signs of mental illness, invited Alexander Sutherland from St. Luke’s Hospital to examine his second son. The bottom line was disappointing: Sutherland concluded that Richard was insane. Promising his father to distract from painful thoughts, Richard went with him to the picturesque village of Cobham, located near London. After a joint dinner, they went for a walk, and Osiris got the better of it ... Richard attacked his father with a knife and killed him on the edge of the chalk quarry, after which he immediately fled to Dover and boarded the ship following in Calais.

The police found the body of the unfortunate father and began to search for Richard Dadd himself, fearing that he might be killed. During a search of his London apartment, drawings were found depicting friends and like-minded artists, and all with a throat cut. This is where the investigation took a different turn. When Dadd was detained in France, he had a list of people "who must die." The artist’s father, Robert, headed this list ... In view of the apparent insanity of Dudd, the court decided to place him in a psychiatric hospital.

In Bedlam and Broadmoor
Dadd just turned 27 years old. After the murder of his father, as well as the attack on a fellow traveler, which he committed on the way to Paris, a lunatic artist was placed in London's Bethel Royal Psychiatric Hospital, which we know as Bedlam. It should be noted that in the Daddov family, mental illnesses were most likely hereditary: his three brothers also suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia.

Doctors recommended Daddu to continue drawing, and it should be noted that mental breakdown did not affect his skill. Isolated from the outside world and from the latest trends in art, he returned to historical and literary subjects, recollections of the Middle East, portraits and fairies. We can say that as an artist, Dadd was lucky: he could draw for himself, without worrying about the commercial component. In 1852, he created a portrait of one of the doctors,Alexander Morrison (now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery). From 1855 to 1864, Dudd worked on another of his famous paintings - The Masterful Swing of a Fairy Lumberjack (by the way, which inspired the British rock band Queen to create the song of the same name). In Bedlam, he created The Controversy: Oberon and Titania. In the 1850s, Dudd became interested in watercolors and wrote the series “Sketches Illustrating Passions” - is it necessary to say that Murder and Madness are present there?

In 1857, the state of the artist somewhat improved, and the conditions of his detention were softened. However, further dramatic improvements did not occur, and the artist spent the rest of his days in psychiatric hospitals. In 1864, he was transferred to the new Broadmoor Psychiatric Clinic, near London. Here Richard Dudd lived until January 7, 1886, drawing and receiving rare visitors. The artist died of extensive pneumonia. His paintings miraculously survived in the attic of the clinic, and a hundred years later, the audience rediscovered the work of Richard Dadd - an ardent admirer of Shakespeare, meaningful stories and fairy-tale characters.