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Art and Images in Psychiatry
Mar 2012

Come Unto These Yellow Sands

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(3):218-219. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.2078

The Late Richard Dadd. Alas! . . . for, although the grave has not actually closed over him, he must be classed among the dead. It is indeed a heavy penalty—that which poor humanity pays for enjoying the gifts of a fertile imagination.Art Union, 18431(p9)

Come Unto These Yellow Sands was the last painting Richard Dadd (1817-1886) completed before leaving on the fateful Grand Tour of Europe and the Middle East that culminated in his mental illness, which led to patricide.2 Because of his exceptional talent and recognition for his imaginative paintings (cover), Dadd was chosen to accompany Sir Thomas Philips on a 10-month Grand Tour to record their travels. Soon after their departure, it was evident that Dadd found it difficult to keep up with Philips' rapid schedule. He was overwhelmed by the pace and the long rides on horseback in the Middle East as they traveled from place to place. Dadd had little time to draw and could not do so on horseback. Moreover, he was overstimulated by the exotic locations, sights, and sounds, finding it difficult to decide what to draw. Some believe that his difficulty choosing subjects and focusing his attention may have been a prodrome to his subsequent psychosis.

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