Not on display

Sir William Reid Dick 1878–1961
Object: 248 × 140 × 178 mm, 9.3 kg
Presented by Sir Charles and Lady Tennyson in memory of their son Lieutenant Penrose Tennyson, RNVR 1942

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This sensitive carving of a head of a sleeping infant creates an illusion of softness without attempting to deny the hardness of the marble. The roughly-textured base serves to remind us that we are encountering a material object, while at the same the head conveys an uncanny sense of human presence.

The emergence of the head from its base serves to enshrine the baby, suggesting new life while also hinting at death. Dick also produced a smaller version of this subject in bronze.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N05378 DAWN 1921
Inscr. ‘Reid Dick, A.R.A. 1921’ b.r.
Marble, 9 3/4×5 1/2×7 (25×14×18).
Presented by Sir Charles and Lady Tennyson in memory of their son, Lieutenant
Penrose Tennyson, R.N.V.R., 1942.
Coll: Purchased from the artist at the R.A. 1921 by E. P. Dawber of the Fine Art Society; no further record.
Exh: R.A., 1921 (1110).
Repr: H. Granville Fell, Sir William Reid Dick, K.C.V.O., R.A., 1945, pl.4 (wrongly dated 1920).

This is a head made from the artist's son John and was started when he was a few days old. Another version, in two pieces of marble, was included in the exhibition Artists aid Russia, Wallace Collection, July–August 1942 (480); it was still in the artist's possession in 1956. (Letter from the artist, 19 March 1956.)

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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