The nineteenth century group of English artists known as The Clique was progressive in its philosophy of contemporary art and rejected the academy. They preferred painting scenes of everyday life and believed in creating art to be appreciated by people rather than judged by institutions. They were critical of the Pre-Raphaelites and felt them to be too self-consciously unconventional in their paintings. Ironically, the founding member and central figure of The Clique, Richard Dadd, would become most well known for a very eccentric work that was far from genre painting. In 1843, Dadd, who had become delusional, believed his father to be the Devil and killed him. He was placed in an asylum where he was encouraged to paint, and it is there that he created his visionary masterpiece, The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke.
The painting was commissioned by a steward at the hospital where Dadd resided and took nine years to make. Though it is regarded by most as his seminal work, the artist himself considered it incomplete.