Richard Dadd, The Halt in the Desert, a watercolour

England, around AD 1845

A famous discovery from the Antiques Roadshow

In 1842 Richard Dadd's patron, Sir Thomas Phillips, took him on an expedition to Greece, Turkey, Palestine and Egypt as his draughtsman. In November of that year the party toured the Holy Land for two weeks in exhausting conditions that were to bring the more unstable elements of Dadd's personality to the surface. From Jerusalem they visited Jordan and returned across the Engaddi wilderness. Here the party are camped by the Dead Sea with Dadd himself at the far right of the fire. Upon returning to England, Dadd (1817-1886) was to murder his father, supposedly at the behest of the Egyptian god Osiris. He was committed to a ward for the criminally insane at Bethlem Hospital where he painted this watercolour from memory and notebook sketches.

This important early work had been untraced since 1857 when it was included in the Art Treasures Exhibition held in Manchester. It was acquired by The British Museum in 1987 after being identified on the BBC television programme Antiques Roadshow.

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More information


M. Caygill, The British Museum A-Z compani (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

P. Allderidge, Richard Dadd (London, 1974)


Height: 368.000 mm
Width: 707.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1987-4-11-9



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