Richard Dadd (British, 1817-1886) The death of Richard II

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Lot 41
Richard Dadd
(British, 1817-1886)
The death of Richard II

Sold for £ 18,000 (US$ 23,992) inc. premium
Richard Dadd (British, 1817-1886)
The death of Richard II
signed, dated and inscribed 'Sketch of the death of Richard 2nd in Pomfret Castle. 1852 - by Richard Dadd. Bethlem Hospital' (lower right)
watercolour over pencil
35.5 x 25.5cm (14 x 10 1/16in).

Footnotes

  • Exhibited:
    London, The Tate Gallery, The Late Richard Dadd (1974), no. 106.

    Literature:
    Allderidge, P., Richard Dadd (London, 1974), no. 46, p. 54.
    (ex. cat)., Allderidge, P., The Late Richard Dadd (London, Tate Gallery, 1974), p. 84.

    The scene in the present lot is taken from the final act in William Shakespeare's play, Richard II. Here, Richard is attacked by Pierce of Exton and his servants at Pontefract Castle. Richard has killed one servant and is close to killing another when Exton deals the final, killing blow. As Alleridge states, "as with so many of the dramatic 'sketches' it is played out at the front of a shallow area, and the heavy open door on the left brings the action forward in the manner of a piece of stage scenery".1 The scene is perhaps one of the most violent in Dadd's ouevre and is a stark contrast to much of Dadd's work, which contains little or no violence. This is perhaps surprising considering that it is violence for which Dadd is best known, with the brutal murder of his father and the attempted murder of others following his descent into schizophrenia.

    The Death of Richard II bears a strong similarity, both in size and composition, to Dadd's Passions series. Similarities can also be found with The flight out of Egypt "the obsessionally placed central figure with a raised axe is reminiscent of the soldier drinking at the centre" as well as his rare use of the colour scarlet.2

    1. (ex. cat)., Allderidge, P., The Late Richard Dadd (London, Tate Gallery, 1974), p. 84.
    2. ibid.
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