Richard Dadd (1817-1887)
Sketch for 'Poverty'
signed, inscribed and dated 'Sketch for Poverty by/RICHARD. DADD. 1853 -/Bethlem Hospital. London.' (lower left)
pencil and watercolour, on paper
13 ½ x 9 ¾ in. (34.3 x 24.8 cm.)
Sir William Charles Hood; Christie’s, London, 28 March 1870, lot 330 (9 gns to White).
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 11 July 1972, lot 107.
P. Allderidge, The Late Richard Dadd (1817-1886), exh. cat., London, 1974-5, pp. 90, no. 116.
Wolverhampton, Metropolitan Borough of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums, The Late Richard Dadd 1817-1886, 26 October - 23 November, 1974.
London, Art Council of Great Britain, The Tate Gallery and Bristol, The City Art Gallery, The Late Richard Dadd, 1974-1975, no. 116.

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Bernice Owusu
Bernice Owusu

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Lot Essay

In her catalogue raisonée, Patricia Allderidge questions whether the present watercolour should be classed as one of the Passions series, although it was listed amongst them at Sir Charles Hood’s sale in 1870, albeit entitled Blind Fiddler, probably through association with Wilkie’s painting of that name.

The figure of the old man resembles Dadd’s father and Dadd himself had learnt to play the violin, though the present watercolour is the only instance of it in his paintings. Dadd painted, in the same year, Sketch to illustrate Splendor and Wealth (Allderidge, op.cit., no. 117); a contrasting pair to Sketch for 'Poverty'. As with the present work, there is no certainty that Splendor and Wealth is part of the true Passions series.

Dadd suffered from mental illness and was committed to Bethlem Hospital in 1844 after murdering his father. This drawing belonged to Sir William Charles Hood, who on becoming the Superintendant at Bethlem in 1853, encouraged Dadd and other patients to draw as a form of therapy.

We are grateful to Patricia Allderidge for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.

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