Alexander Dick
'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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Australian Art

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The National Gallery of Australia's collection of Australian art reflects its unique national responsibility to present the story of visual art in Australia.

The collection includes works of consistently high quality and outstanding aesthetic merit…


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The National Gallery of Australia's collection of Australian art reflects its unique national responsibility to present the story of visual art in Australia.

The collection includes works of consistently high quality and outstanding aesthetic merit -- works by artists from all Australian states and territories and by Australian artists working overseas, as well as works by artists living for a time in Australia. The wide-ranging collection of the work of Indigenous artists from all regions and urban areas of Australia is covered under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

The Gallery's permanent displays of Australian art are presented in an integrated and broadly chronological arrangement of works from the earliest colonial period to the present day: paintings and sculptures, works on paper, photographs and other photomedia, decorative arts and design. Because of New Zealand's geographical and historical proximity to Australia, works by New Zealand artists are collected selectively and often displayed alongside Australian works.

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