A mezzotint and wood engraver, Sadd migrated to Australia in 1853 by way of North America. Most of his Victorian work, based on photographs, consists of mezzotint portraits of clergy, politicians, the Governor of Victoria and standard British celebrities.
mezzotint and wood engraver, was born in London, son of Samuel Sadd, a jeweller, and Dorothea, née Clint. Another source names sister as Sarah a half sister of English portrait painter and engraver George Clint (1770-1854).His first recorded works are prints: a portrait of the actor John Liston after G. Clint was published in 1832 and an engraving was exhibited at the Society of British Artists that same year. Sadd came to New South Wales in 1853 by way of North America. Working in Sydney as a portrait engraver he became involved in the current heroising of 'the gold discoverer of Australia’ E.H. Hargraves, whose portrait he engraved in July 1853 from a daguerreotype by Elijah Hart. The daguerreotype and engraving are lost.
Sadd,however, is listed as an engraver in Edwards Street, Auckland on 7 February, 1854 from which address he advertised his daguerreotype portrait service as well as engraving in the New Zealander from 1 April to 10 May 1854. He departed Auckland 23 May 1854 on the “Moa” for Sydney with Mrs Sadd and two children
Sadd was listed at 21 Morrison Street, Sydney in 1854 but by March 1855 had settled in Collingwood, Melbourne. Most of his Victorian work, also based on photographs, consists of mezzotint portraits of clergy, politicians, the Governor of Victoria and standard British celebrities such as Scott, Burns, Shakespeare and Florence Nightingale. In 1868 he produced a mezzotint portrait of the visiting royal prince, HRH Prince Alfred, KG, Duke of Edinburgh (NLA). Engraved portraits of Sir Charles Napier and Dr A. Cairns were shown at the Victorian Exhibition of Art in December 1856, other engravings at the first exhibition of the Victorian Society of Fine Arts in 1857, and portraits of Robert Burns (after J. Nasmyth) and William Wordsworth (after B.R. Haydon) at the Melbourne Public Library Exhibition in March 1869.
Sadd worked on his own account, publishing through different booksellers and journals. In June 1859 the Examiner and Melbourne Weekly News announced:
Mr. Sadd has submitted to us a number of remarkably well-executed engravings in a peculiar mezzotint, taken from photographs. The drawing of these is especially delicate and the shadows have all the softness and rotundity of life. The fidelity of the portraits is moreover very noticeable. To those persons who have numerous friends at home desirous of possessing their likenesses, Mr. Sadd’s process offers an economical way of satisfying them; for at a comparatively small cost he can produce 50 or a 100 impressions, which, unlike the ordinary photograph, may be coloured and mounted like any other print. It is indeed astonishing that Mr Sadd should not have met with more liberal patronage than would seem to have been hitherto awarded him.
Although principally known as a mezzotint portrait engraver on copper and steel, Sadd also taught himself wood-engraving and did portrait engravings on wood for the Illustrated Australian News and the Sydney-based Town and Country Journal , the latter engaging him as a wood-engraver in 1871. He suffered severe head wounds in August 1875 when a building under construction in Barrack Street collapsed onto the roof of Engel’s printery where he was working, demolishing the press-room and burying Sadd and the presses in the rubble.
Early in 1883, Sadd returned to Melbourne. In October he showed a portrait at the Victorian Academy of Arts’ Second Black and White Exhibition, also showing work in the VAA’s fifteenth annual exhibition in 1885. His work in mezzotint was unique in Victoria and he became well known for his skill in this technique, achieving great delicacy and softness of tone. However, the process was rendered commercially obsolete with the rapid progress of photography.
For many years Sadd was totally deaf (possibly as a result of the accident in 1875) and this made him reluctant to communicate with strangers. He died at 13 Bridport Street, St Kilda on 24 November 1893 and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Johanna, née Barry, whom he had married in New York about 1848, and one of their three daughters.