About the Collection
“Artist Naturalist” is how Dick described himself in his autobiographical book entitled Other Edens (1979). He established a reputation as one of the leading bird painters in the United States when he illustrated the Warblers of America (edited by Ludlow Griscom and Alexander Sprunt, Jr., 1957). He painted approximately 2,500 separate birds for the Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent with a text by Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley (1983). He painted about 600 birds for the Birds of China by Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee (1984). He used a variety of techniques to create ink drawings with striking compositions for numerous books and articles published between 1949 and 1984. He took approximately 8,000 photographs of professional quality while travelling in more than 50 countries to study and photograph birds and other animals in wilderness settings. He assembled one of the finest private collections of rare bird books and contributed them to the College of Charleston together with his papers and his wildlife preserve, Dixie Plantation.
The photographs consist of four separate groups: color slides (approx. 8,000), separate prints made largely from slides (approx. 1,000), scrapbooks with mainly color prints (18 vols.), and misc. photographs of family and friends (approx. 500). The slides are a comprehensive records of the wildlife he saw primarily during extended trips to Africa (10 trips from 1956-1985, particularly to Kenya) and India (6 trips from 1962-1984). He also made extended trips to Antartica (2 trips in 1967 and 1975), Brazil (1980), China (1983), Costa Rica (2 trips in 1960 and 1981), the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador (2 trips in 1962 and 1973), Greenland (1974), Guatemala (1976), Mexico (1977), Nepal (1984), Canada (1975 and 1981), New Guinea (1972), Panama (1971), and Trinidad (1976).
In addition, he took hundreds of photographs on trips throughout the United States, including numerous trips to Florida, lengthy visits to the Southwest, annual bird counts on Bull’s Island, and annual fishing trips to Maine and adjacent areas. Eighteen volumes of scrapbooks consist primarily of color photographs taken on trips from 1953-1970: Two volumes document his travels to Europe and elsewhere from 1953-1961 and include photographs of water birds seen at the Severn Wildlife Trust in England. Two volumes are devoted to his first trip to the Galapagos (1962). One volume is on Alaska (1963), four volumes on East Africa (1964-1967), one on Tierra del Fuego ( Argentina and Chile) and Antartica (1967), and one on islands in the Indian Ocean (1970). Seven scrapbooks are devoted exclusively to birds, and birds often occur in the other scrapbooks along with mammals, scenery, architecture, traveling companions, etc. Photographs taken after 1970 are in ten loose-leaf binders.
In 1983 Dick planned to prepare a book of photographs, and he had several hundred cibachrome enlargements made from his best slides, but increasing blindness prevented the completion of this project. Although many of his photographs have been exhibited, almost none have been published.
The personal photographs include pictures of Dick as a child, two photo albums of a family trip to France and Italy in c. 1927; the Dick family estate at Islip, Long Island; portrait photographs of Dick in a complete set of passports from 1937-1986; photos of his parents and siblings (William K. Dick, an industrialist and banker, and Madeline T. Force Dick, widow of John Jacob Astor and Dick’s wife from 1916-1933; his brother William Force Dick; his stepmother Virginia C. Dick and her and his father’s children, Direxa V. Dick and Will K. Dick); classmates at Yale Art School, which he attended in 1939 and 1940; early photos of Dixie Plantation (Meggett, SC), which his mother acquired as a winter home in 1935 and which he inherited and made his residence from 1947-1995; photos of friends and guests at Dixie; of rare birds raised at Dixie; of traveling companions including David A. Garrity, William C. Coleman, Elliott Hudson, Robert Verity Clem, and Gertrude Legendre.