'Tea service' c. 1828
Gift of David Wigram Allen 1979
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
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