A Fevered Mind’s Master Stroke

The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke
The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke-Richard Dadd 1855-1864
As well as attacking the current prevailing psychiatric view of madness (Breton’s Nadja was a call to arms in this respect, stated that if he was institutionalised he would take advantage of his madness and kill someone, preferably a doctor) the Surrealist’s championed the art of the insane. As has often been stated, madness and dreams share an affinity in that they both posit a convincing alternative reality, at least while a person is under the spell.

I am not sure that the Surrealists had any direct knowledge of one of the most extraordinary examples of art produced by an inmate of an asylum (as he was a professionally trained artist his work cannot be classified as what is now known as outsider art) Richard Dadd’s The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, however the hyper-realism of the fairy scene and the remarkable detail in every obsessive brush-stroke pre-figures the work of Dali and Magritte.

 

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41 thoughts on “A Fevered Mind’s Master Stroke

  1. Really lovely details. There was a great museum in NYC–Folk art museum that had some Outsider Art. But it was a victim of the rents and shuttered, moving to another location but only a shell of its former self.

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  2. …I have 3 pieces of exquisite and interesting artwork hanging in my house, created by an inmate at a very famous prison near where I live. I am not sure if he was insane…but your piece made me think of this. Thanks for sharing Cake! Your posts are always interesting and informative. (sometimes…especially as of late…they are kinda hot too! lol) Hope your having a great day.

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  3. This is spectacular. Again I think I’m drawn to these pieces that have all the little details. So much to take in. Was Dadd committed at the time he produced this or out? Also you are still not showing up in my e-mail again. I will try the unfollow/follow again… Sigh…

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      1. I don’t think it was pleasant but he probably had it a little easier.. De Sade was also in an mental asylum for a long period, Charenton where he directed plays that starred the inmates that was attended by the fashionable Parisian set

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      2. I will check the films out. The thing that strikes me as strange is that his nobility couldn’t keep him from landing behind bars, but that once there he was able to carry on as he did. I mean staging plays and drawing the Paris elite?

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  4. “The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke” is amazing in it’s detail, yet it’s almost disturbing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s some of the odd little characters, they are reminiscent of a bad dream or nightmare.

    So it would seem that every time we go to sleep we’re under the spell of madness, entering an alternative reality. I like that! Thank you Mr. Cake, for the introduction to Richard Dadd, thrilled to learn about him. For me it has the same sort of creep factor as Hieronymus Bosch, which is not a bad thing at all. ~ Miss Cranes

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    1. Well the idea was first suggested by Plato and then advanced considerably by the good old Bishop Berkeley that our perception of reality is unverifiable by the senses and posit the case of dreams and madness as an illustration on that fact, because when dreaming or in the grip of an illusion that is also a convincing reality, though they say it much more elegantly than I ever could.i agree there is something disturbing about this picture, you can see why it was very popular (in the U.K anyway) during the trippy 60’s. The hyper-realism and the obsessive attention to detail is very impressive. Glad you enjoyed.

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      1. It is certainly a vivid fantasy and he worked on it for a number of years. I am certainly not going to argue. This one is a little bit different, I want my site to be cohesive but not monotonous (easier said than done I know).

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