Alexander DICK, Three-piece tea service Enlarge 1 /6
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Alexander DICK

Edinburgh, Scotland 1798 /1802 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1843

  • to Australia 1824

Three-piece tea service c.1828 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: metalwork, tea services, silver, bone hollow-ware

Primary Insc: Punch mark on base: "A'D"; Punch marks on base: "NSW", "D", a castle, an anchor, and [illeg]
Dimensions: teapot 16.5 h x 29.9 w x 13.9 d cm jug 11.2 h x 15.4 w x 9.3 d cm sugar bowl 13.0 h x 23.4 w x 13.1 d cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of David Wigram Allen, 1979
Accession No: NGA 79.2305.1-3

This teapot, part of a three-piece tea service that also comprises a cream jug and sugar bowl, bears the engraved monogram and crest of New South Wales’ first Australian-trained colonial solicitor, George Allen (1800–1877). Each item in the set is stamped with maker’s marks in the English style, dating the set to about 1828. Its elegant design is in the fashionable neoclassical style of England’s late Georgian period. The silversmith, Alexander Dick, used his considerable skill to interpret this with characteristic design motifs of gadrooning, or reverse fluting.

Alexander Dick was a silversmith, jeweller, watchmaker and engraver who had learnt his craft in Edinburgh, Scotland. He emigrated as a free settler to Sydney in 1824, where he set up his silversmithing business.

In May 1829 Dick was convicted on charges of receiving silver stolen from the Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay and was transported to the Norfolk Island prison. His seven-year sentence was reduced when he received a pardon in 1833 and returned to Sydney, expanding his business, which had been operated in his absence by his wife, Charlotte. One of the few professional silversmiths in Sydney in the 1820s, Dick’s workshop output was extensive, covering a range of cutlery, hollow ware and ecclesiastical objects.

 

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

This three-piece tea service bears the engraved monogram and crest of New South Wales’s first Australian-trained colonial solicitor, George Allen. Each item in the set is stamped with maker’s marks in the English style, dating the set to about 1828. Its elegant design is in the fashionable neoclassical style of England’s late Georgian period. The silversmith, Alexander Dick, used his considerable skill to interpret this with characteristic design motifs of gadrooning, or reverse fluting.

Dick was a silversmith, jeweller, watchmaker and engraver who had learnt his craft in Edinburgh, Scotland. He immigrated as a free settler to Sydney in 1824, where he set up his silversmithing business.

In May 1829 Dick was convicted on charges of receiving silver stolen from the Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay and was transported to the Norfolk Island prison. His seven-year sentence was reduced when he received a pardon in 1833 and returned to Sydney, expanding his business, which had been operated in his absence by his wife, Charlotte. One of the few professional silversmiths in Sydney in the 1820s, Dick’s workshop output was extensive, covering a range of cutlery, hollowware and ecclesiastical objects.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

European settlers in Australia showed considerable initiative in creating decorative and practical objects for their homes. This tea service, an object of considerable refinement and elegance, was made by the silversmith, watchmaker, jeweller and engraver, Alexander Dick, who established his business in Sydney after arriving as a free settler in 1824. This tea service demonstrates the English neoclassical style of the early 19th century and Dick’s silversmithing skill in using the characteristic design motifs of gadrooning, or reverse fluting. It was commissioned from Dick by the Hon. George Allen (1800–77) who, after arriving in Sydney in 1816, became the first Australian-trained solicitor; his descendants gave it to the National Gallery of Australia.

Robert Bell


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002