Archive for William Powell Frith

Happy Birthday Richard Dadd!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by echostains

Richard Dadd

Today is the birthday of English Victorian artist Richard Dadd (b.1817 – 1886 Chatham Kent)  The supernatural held  a great fascination for Dadd and fairies and other worldly beings abound throughout this artist’s work.  His subject matter is extremely detailed and also included Oriental themes.


At 20 he attended The Royal Academy of Arts with Augustus Egg and William Frith amongst others.  He was considered a leadiing talent and along with Egg, Frith and Henry O’ Neilfounded the Clique.  It was during  an expedition from Europe to Greece, Turkey, Syria and Egypt in 1842 where he accompanied Sir Thomas Phillips that Frith underwent a transformation.  He became delusional and increasingly violent, believing he that the Egyptian God Osiris was influencing him.  At first it was believed that he had sunstroke.

Oberon and Titania

Unfortunately, when he returned home Dadd was diagnosed to be of unsound mind.  His family sent him to Cobham in Kent to recuperate.  Whilst there he became convinced that his father was really the Devil in disguise, so he killed him with a knife and then fled to France. 

Whilst in France, he attacked a tourist with a razor, and was arrested by the police.  On his return to England he was interred at Bethlem psychiatric hospital (Bedlam) and also Broadmoor, where he was encouraged to paint.  Many of his best paintings were created in hospital including ‘The Fairy Fellers  Master-Stroke’.

The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke

This particular painting took him a long time to paint (between 1855 – 1864)  – and he was never to finish it .  He  also painted 33 watercolour drawings as well as shipping scenes and landscapes.  Most of his work are small-scale and the attention to detail is astonishing.


Dadd spent 20 years in Bedlam before moving to Broadmoor outside London.  He remained there, painting until he died in 1886 of a disease relating to the lungs. 

the ballad monger

Dadd has influenced writers, musicians and playwrights.  British Rock band Queen were inspired to write a song based on and named ‘The Fairy Fellers Master – Stroke’  Terry Pratchet wrote ‘the Wee Free Man’ in 2003 and Robert Rankin‘s ‘The Witches of Chiswick‘ were both inspired by the same painting.

The Halt in the Desert 1845

A radio play ‘Come unto these Yellow Sands‘ by fantasy writer Angela Carter was written about the artist’s life and Richard Babley (known as Mr Dick in David Copperfield) is also said to have a connection with Richard Dadd.

More information about Dadd here and here

Dadd working from here

Puck here

Fairy Fellers Master Stroke here

Oberon and Titania here

The Ballad Monger here

More information about The Halt in the Desert

There’s a new POETRY CHALLENGE over on Bookstains – just click here

The Art of Progress

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , on November 30, 2010 by echostains

Turner The Fighting Temeraire 1839

Everything in the world is forever changing –  our planet, our government, our values, ourselves  – everything is shifting.  Art  serves as a  testament  leaving  its legacy and mark on change.  Art provides a reference to our world – a porthole, a window to the past, present and the now.  It has always been like this.  J M W Turner‘s (b. 1775 – 1851 London)  moving watercolour of The Fighting Temeraire shows Nelson’s 98 gun flagship, triumphant in the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 being towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up and used as scrap in 1838  As the new age ushers in new forms of transport, men are no longer slaves to the seas whims: it is the beginning of the age of steam – the ‘floating kettles’ as some called them.  The beautiful setting of the sunset shows a sense of loss as the old warship contrasts with the smaller steam-powered tug.

The Railway Station by William Powell Frith 1862

William Powell Frith‘s (b.1819 – 1909 Yorkshire England) gigantic canvas ‘The Railway Station’  had everyone talking about it when it went on show at a gallery in the Haymarket London in 1862.  Not only was it interesting because the artist had collaborated with a photographer (Samuel Fry), using his photographs as aides to his work – there were nearly 100 figures in the painting and lots of little details which people flocked to see.  Scenarios break out all over the painting: one example being two famous Scotland Yard detectives of the time Haydon and Brett arresting a criminal.  A wedding party and some army recruits join the throng.  This painting was reported by the Times newspaper as breaking all previous sales records for any painting by a living artist:-

“the artist had been paid the astonishing sum of £8,750 for it, while the Athenaeum put the total at 8,000 guineas, or £9,187 10s. Whatever the correct amount, Frith’s earnings from The Railway Station broke all previous records…

 ‘As a rule, it is only dead men whose works have risen to such figures,’ declared The Times, ‘and even these honoured dead may be counted on the two hands.

However, only £4,500 of this was paid for the painting itself; the rest secured the far more lucrative copyright and sole exhibition rights.”  What price artistic ‘progression’ eh.  Frith was very well paid for him labours it seems.


connoisseur by Norman Rockwell

The third painting is by illustrator Norman Rockwell (b 1894 – 1978 New York USA)  ‘Coinoisseur’ 1962 – a tribute to Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock (b. 1912 – 1966 USA).  Whilst the painting is sometimes interpreted as a compliment to Pollock – it is also interesting to note the comparison between Rockwell’s illustrative art and the new Modern art of Pollock who was big news in the art scene of 1962.

This is the painting which has inspired yet another Poetry Challenge!  This time it’s about – you guessed by now – PROGRESS:-)  For details of how to enter please click The connoisseur to go over to Bookstains where you will find this and other poetry challenges that are art related.

More information  about The Railway here and image from here

connoisseur image from here