Sir William Reid Dick (English, 1879-1961)

Sir William Reid Dick’s sculptural production was much indebted to the work of New Sculpture artists, but also steeped in Rodin’s end-of-the-century lessons, representing a unique form of artistic expression in England during the first half of the 20th century.

Reid Dick was born in Glasgow in 1878 in a working-class family. He received limited schooling and started training as a stonemason in his early teens and then worked as a carver on the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. There, he met George Frampton – the superintending sculptor – and Francis Derwent-Wood, who was working temporarily on the project. This encounter represented a key moment in the career of the artist, who left his job as stonemason and started training at the Glasgow School of Art.

Reid Dick moved to London in 1908 to pursue his career as a professional sculptor. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and at the Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers. His success was almost immediate. The model Sling Boy was shown at the Royal Academy in 1911 and contributed to build the sculptor’s reputation, leading to an abundance of official commissions for monuments and statues.

The long and distinguished list of such public monuments includes the Kitchener Memorial Chapel in St Paul’s Cathedral, the Lion on the Menim Gates at Ypres, the equestrian group entitled Controlled Energy at Unilever House (London) and the Eagle on top of the Royal Airforce Memorial at Embankment. As a portrait sculptor, Dick also made a number of important busts, including those of the British Royal family.

Reid Dick was made an associate of the Royal Academy in 1921 and was elected Royal Academician in 1928. He was appointed President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1935, holding the post for three years. The artist received his knighthood in the same year.

King George VI appointed him King’s Sculptor between 1938 and 1952. Last in a long list of honours, he was appointed Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland from 1952 until his death in 1961.