Private Collection, UK
In July 1842, while he was still a student at the Royal Academy Schools, Richard Dadd left England to accompany Sir Thomas Phillips on a ten month tour through Europe and the Middle East, having been commissioned to make drawings of the places they visited. Dadd had already established a reputation as the most promising young artist of his generation, and was admired for the imaginative qualities of his paintings and his exceptionally fine draughtsmanship. He had been recommended to Phillips by his mentor David Roberts, R.A., who himself was currently achieving a huge success with paintings and lithographs of Middle Eastern scenes based on his own sketching tour of the area. There must have seemed little doubt that Dadd's career would similarly benefit from such an opportunity. It was from this journey, however, that he returned in the early stages of a catastrophic mental breakdown, and already suffering from the delusions which soon led to the murder of his father and his lifelong confinement, first in Bethlem Hospital and then in Broadmoor.