Sculptor born in Glasgow on 13 January 1878, son of an engine fitter. This date, corresponding with that given on his birth certificate, is also that given by S.C. Hutchison in the original Dictionary of National Biography entry, though, in a more recent edition of the DNB and elsewhere, a later date of 1879 has got into circulation. After serving a five-year apprenticeship in a stonemason’s yard, he went on to Glasgow School of Art (1906–07). In 1907 he came to London, and started exhibiting at the RA in the following year. In his pre-war statuettes, such as The Catapult (RA 1911) and The Kelpie (RA 1914), he showed remarkable skill in figure composition in the round. From 1916 to 1918 he performed military service in France and Palestine. As a sculptor of First World War memorials, Dick’s most impressive contribution was the gigantic lion crowning the Menin Gate at Ypres, erected in 1927. Between the wars, he distinguished himself with monumental architectural sculptures, many of them for City of London buildings. His magnum opus, the sculpture for the Kitchener Memorial Chapel in St Paul’s (1922–25), is also in the City, though not within the scope of this volume. He collaborated with the architects Edwin Lutyens, Sir John Burnet, James Lomax Simpson and Reginald Blomfield. He was President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors from 1933 to 1938. In 1938 he became the King’s (later the Queen’s) Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland. He executed effigies of George V and Queen Mary for St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and later, in 1947, the standing figure of George V for Old Palace Yard, Westminster. His public sculpture from the post-war years also includes the equestrian Lady Godiva for Coventry (c.1950) and Franklin D. Roosevelt for Grosvenor Square, London (1950).
Bibliography: S.C. Hutchison, ‘Dick, Sir William Reid (1878–1961)’, DNB, 1981; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 138, 139, 169; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, p. 132, vol. 2, pp. 202–03, 206–07, 370–71, 373–79, 513; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 247, 261, 279, 482; Mapping Sculpture; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. xix, xxv, 162–66; Royal Society of Sculptors website; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 57, 58–59; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 18–20, 141–42, 229–30, 278–80, 299–300, 410–11; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 54–57, 143–44, 160–63, 357–59; D. Wardleworth, William Reid Dick, Sculptor, Farnham, 2013; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, p. 225.
Philip Ward-Jackson October 2023
Unknown photographer, Sir William Reid Dick with his statue of Lady Godiva, bromide print, c.1948, NPG x194077 (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)