Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Mad Painter's nephew's friend...

Wallace Tower on Carnegie's Brae. Originally known as Benholm's Lodging after Robert Keith of Benholm, the owner.  Benholm was the brother of George Keith, the Earl Marischal. 

"Spanish" John Phillip
A little known fact - No.4 Wallace Nook - which would have been a flat in the tower once it was split up into separate dwellings - was home to John Phillip, an apprentice painter & glazier. He would go on to become a fellow of the Royal Academy of Art, and be painter famed for his scenes in Spain, earning him the name "Spanish" Phillip. 

One of his academy friends, Frank Dadd had a very strange uncle, Richard Dadd. 

Richard Dadd - the Mad Artist
The latter was insane, he murdered his own father and was thereafter locked up in an asylum - the doctors realised Richard would remain calm if allowed to paint - his works featured fairies, elves, dwarves and other strange mythical creatures.

"The Fairy-Feller's Master Stoke"
one of Dadd's oddest fairy painting
He thus he became one of the many Victorian "Fairy Painters" who popularised the subject at the very time the interest in the supernatural was growing - which led to the ultimate hoax, "The Cottingley Fairies", when two cousins tricked the intelligentsia of the day with photographs of these supposed winged sprites. 

Thus we have three degrees of separation from the Wallace Tower to the Cottingley Fairies. History is always under your feet and on your doorstep!!

"Fake" Fairy photo with Elsie, one of the tricky cousins and her fairy friend

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