Painted in Bethlem Hospital, Dadd created this scene from imagination and painted it in intense detail. Painted from the view of an onlooker observing the scene through grass, it shows the ‘fairy feller’ with his axe raised to split a chestnut to make a new carriage for Queen Mab. A host of other fairy and supernatural creatures are in attendance for the event, and the scene is crammed with action and detail.
The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke
Richard Dadd (1817 – 1886) was a British painter, famous for his depictions of the supernatural in miniscule detail. Dadd was admitted to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1837, and was awarded the medal for life drawing in 1840. He founded The Clique, a group of influential artists whose view was that art should be judged by the public, not by academic ideals. The Clique was sadly disbanded after Dadd’s incarceration for the murder of his father in 1843, and, probably suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, Dadd thereafter spent the rest of his life in psychiatric hospitals, where he produced many of his most famous works.