Mean As Custard (calico_pye) wrote,
Mean As Custard

Richard Dadd – The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke


We are covering the subject of folklore and the Victorian interest in fairies.  There is a positive correlation between periods of an unsettling amount of change (war/economic and social change) and the reprised interest of fairies and folklore. Not only did we have this in the Victorian era, via the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, we can see this in later in the late nineteen thirties with Tolkien’s Lord of the Ringstrilogy (much of which was written during World War II).  Maybe there is a link between people feeling that they are ‘diminished’ in some way, considering themselves as ‘downsized people’ – a response to threatening forces beyond their control.

Above is a painting by Richard Dadd, who went mad and murdered his own dad. Inspired by Oberon and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the figures in the painting are fairy folk, miniaturised versions of the fortune tellers cant of ‘Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Sailor,’ plus a mini Pope (who Dadd had seen in Rome and had found himself overcome with an urge to attack him).  The pope in the picture is Dadd’s father, Robert whom he had killed with a knife. There is an interesting link to this painting at The Tate website:

“This work, although unfinished, is generally considered to be Dadd’s masterpiece. It was painted for H.G. Haydon, an official at Bethlem Hospital, where Dadd was sent after he became insane and murdered his father in 1843. He was transferred to Broadmoor in July 1864, before being able to complete the
painting, but he later wrote a long and rambling poem entitled ‘Elimination of a Picture & its subject – called The Feller’s Master Stroke’, which attempts to explain some of the imagery.”

Full Story Here
Tags: fda english y2, the victorians

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