By Richard Dadd - , Public Domain, Link
This painting is a self portrait.
I have spent time in the Bethlam and Broadmoor myself,17 years before the modernization of these places, where the flavour of the history, ghosts and memories of the past linger in the corridors and stories are past on by word of mouth.Where no outsider ever gets to see these incarcerated souls, who are not going to see the outside world again.This was the case for Richard Dadd.Born in 1817 and died in 1886 at 69 years,due to chronic lung desease.Dadd went a bit mad it seems after he come back from Egypt where he had spent time under the starlit desert night skies,out in the open with a tribe of Nomads,with whom he had blown his mindsmoking cannabis.
He ended up killing his dad when he returned and sent to the Bethlam.He had been a good artist and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts at the age of 20.He was 26 by this time(1843),and stayed at the Bethlam until he was 46.He produced his masterpiece between 1855-1864.so it was finished off within 1 or 2 years after being transferred to Broadmoor.He had no painting materials, brushes, paints etc.it was created out of strands of his own hair, and left over beetroot and suchlike coloured dyes from food stuffs, tea etc,that he manufactured himself.
Having been in a similar predicament, I can predict what was foremost concerning Richard Dadd in this situation.firstly, 24 hours a day would be on his mind that he would have to overcome this imprisonment.Additionally means to doing so would have been considered by hook or crook.Also money, or lack of it would have been a majort factor.
He was also an Aertist and the inreligent man in this position would not ignore the neccessatiy of writing a book that was not normally possible to write.In this case paint a picture to put the experience onto paper.Very much a message in a bottle.So he concieved this masterpeice.It is very good.But,dont be fooled, on his mind as a major factor was the selling and making money out of this work.Had he been suceesful in getting his painting recognized at the time, he would have facilitated his freedom and financial security.