Dick, John Henry

John Henry Dick signed watercolor painting of goldeneye ducks over the surf

p4A ItemID E8985939
A large-folio hand colored engraving by W. Dickinson, published London, 1782, Richmond Hill after Henry William Bunbury

p4A ItemID E8982352
Joseph Hubert Diss Debar (American, born France, 1820 to 1905). A sketchbook [portfolio] with brown hardcover binding, embossed gold title, SKETCHES

p4A ItemID E8941151
Marine Architectural Drawing by Henry William Frackman, "The Iron Steamer Carrie of Savannah", 1869, watercolor, pen and ink on paper, signed

p4A ItemID E8844064

John Henry Dick (1919-1995)

Born in Islip, New York in 1919, John Henry Dick was attracted to nature at an early age. Encouraged in his outdoor pursuits by his father and his mother (Madelin Force Dick, the widow of John Jacob Astor, who perished on the Titanic), the young Dick was especially fascinated by birds and established his own wildfowl aviary at his family estate, with pheasants, quail, ducks, and geese. Dick’s first commission was to paint a mural of birds for the wall of the dining hall at his prep school. “It was about this time,” Dick said, “that I discovered for myself the dramatic ornithological compositions of John J. Audubon, the primitive charms of Alexander Wislon, the colorful excitement of John Gould, the observing eye of Louis Agassiz Fuertes.” Dick identified “the study and painting of birds” as his first love. With the encouragement of his tutor, John Moffet, he attended Yale Art School before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. After the war, Dick decided to merge his two passions and become a bird illustrator. In 1947, he moved permanently to Dixie Plantation, his family’s winter home twenty miles south of Charleston. His first major work was four illustrations for Alexander Sprunt’s South Carolina Bird Life in 1949, joining contributions by well-known illustrators Roger Tory Peterson and Francis Lee Jaques. Three years later he gained national recognition by winning the highly competitive annual Duck Stamp Contest sponsored by the Fish and Wildlife Service. He subsequently provided illustrations for twelve books on wildlife and wrote and illustrated his travel account ‘Other Edens’. When not traveling around the world to document, photograph, and paint birds, Dick constructed his own Eden at Dixie Plantation. Here he was surrounded by birds, both in real life and in art. His impressive aviary contained a wide variety of waterfowl, pheasants, cranes, and peafowl. During the late 1940s Dick also became a serious collector of fine illustrated bird books, primarily from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Over the years, in addition to building a working collection of more than a thousand volumes on ornithology, he acquired a magnificent collection of bird illustrations. Among his rare titles were the complete elephant folio editions of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, Edward Lear’s ‘Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae’, or ‘Parrots’, the complete works of John Gould, and beautiful, valuable titles by Buffon, Edwards, Manetti, Levaillant, Knip, Temminick, Frisch, Dresser, Elliott, Sharpe, and other prominent authors and illustrators. When John Henry Dick died in 1995 at the age of 76, he left his beloved Dixie Plantation and his magnificent collection of rare books to the College of Charleston.


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