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Lot 318
ROBERTS, DAVID (1796-1864, painter)
£1,500 - 2,000
US$ 2,500 - 3,400
Lot Details
ROBERTS, DAVID (1796-1864, painter)
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('David Roberts'), ABOUT RICHARD DADD AND HIS INCIPIENT MADNESS, to the journalist S[amuel] C[arter] Hall, 3 pages, octavo, second leaf laid down on an album leaf, Fitzroy Square, 20 September 1843


  • '...Accept my best thanks for returning me poor Dadd's letters which I have just rec[eive]d and with this I send for your perusal an earlier one dated Athens in which you will find his remarks upon first seeing the Pictures of the Great Italian Masters particularly those of Venice - as also, his first impressions, on landing in Greece - and the overpowering affect it had upon his excitable imagination...after reading those letters together with those to his Father (which were of the most affectionate nature) it is not difficult to see - that unfortunately from the rapidity with which they traversed those countreys - the continual succession of objects every one partaking of a deeper interest than another the contemplation of which upon a young and sensitive mind - reason was at last overpowered, and hence the mental powers, although in themselves strong, by overoperation became at last a total wreck -, whether this (had the journey been less rapid) could have been avoided, is not for us now to say - one thing is evident it was on the voyage homewards from Egypt that the change first became sensible to himself as also to his companion. he never wrote to me again after the one written at Malta, probably his reflexions on coming home, as to what he had to show, the hurridness of the journey admitting of his making little more than pencil sketches - may have had its effect in hurr[y]ing on the catastrophe...'

    David Roberts, a friend of Dadd's father, had recommended Richard Dadd to accompany the Welsh lawyer, Sir Thomas Phillips, on a ten-month tour of Europe and the Middle East as artist and travelling companion. As Roberts reports in the present letter before the end of the journey Dadd was showing signs of mental illness. Three months after returning to England he murdered his father, believing him to be the Devil in disguise, and was thereafter confined in the state criminal lunatic asylum, first at Bethlem Hospital and then at Broadmoor, until his death in 1886. Hall had commissioned Dadd to do the illustrations for his Book of British Ballads.
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