Sir William Reid Dick, RA HRSA PRBS (1879-1961)
Sir William Reid Dick was one of the most prolific and highly regarded sculptors of the 20th Century. By the time of his death in 1961 he had been a Royal Academician (from 1928), President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (1935-38), Sculptor to King George V (1947 – 1952), and Queen Elizabeth II’s Sculptor-in-Ordinary for Scotland (1952 – 1961).
He was born in Glasgow in 1878, where he remained until 1907 having studied at the Glasgow School of Art. Relocating to London to enrol at the City and Guild’s School in Kennington, it was only one year before he had his first work exhibited at the Royal Academy. The design for The Slingboy dates from this early period; a version was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1911, and it was cast in both large and half-size size casts up until the 1940s and this example is of their number. Sir William Reid Dick was producing these objects at a time when the taste for sculpture began to move away from monumental outdoor pieces to a more domestic personal scale. Frederick Leighton produced two of the iconic pieces of this movement, The Sluggard and An Athelete Wrestling With A Python and much of the same interest in muscle tension and subject matter can be seen in The Slingboy.
However, throughout his career, Sir William Reid Dick was also commissioned to produce a number of prestigious outdoor sculptures all over the world. In London one can see the equestrian group by Blackfriars bridge (next to Unilever House), the eagle on top of the Royal Air Force Memorial on the Embankment, the statue of Franklin D Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, the figure of George V by the House of Lords, and the tombs of both George V and Queen Mary in St George’s chapel at Windsor. He also designed the statue of Lady Godiva in Coventry.