The Art of Bedlam exhibition in the Historic Galleries

Posted by Inga Garriock on 12 Jun 2015, 11:35 a.m.

The first major exhibition in more than 40 years to explore the life and career of Richard Dadd (1817 – 1886), The Art of Bedlam: Richard Dadd will be on display in the historic galleries from 16 June - 1 November.

One of the most fascinating artists of the Victorian era, Dadd is remembered for his depictions of fairies and other supernatural subjects, rendered with minute detail. This exhibition brings together many of the most important works created by Dadd throughout his life, including a rare opportunity to see the artist's two most celebrated paintings, Contradiction: Oberon and Titania, 1854–8 (Private Collection) and The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, c.1855-64 (Tate) together. A direct contemporary of G F Watts, Dadd is remembered primarily for his imaginative works created during his long confinement in Bethlem Hospital and Broadmoor. After returning from a tour of the Middle East in the 1840s, Richard Dadd succumbed to a psychotic illness and murdered his father. Detained in asylums for the rest of his life, Dadd would never cease to work as an artist. But as a “criminal lunatic" and with an audience that consisted primarily of his doctors and attendants, Dadd only received the acclaim his work merited after his death.

Using Dadd's own account of his works and Doctor's medical case notes the exhibition will, for the first time, provide visitors with both a visual and literary journey of Dadd's life and work.