Henry Barlow Carter (1804-1868) Inspired by the seascapes of J M W Turner, Henry Barlow Carter specialised in bracing coastal scenes, especially of Yorkshire. His watercolours – and the prints made from them – made ideal souvenirs for the discerning tourist to the resort of Scarborough.
Henry Barlow Carter was born in Bermondsey, south London, and probably named after an uncle, Henry Barlow, who lived close to the west, in Church Yard Row, Newington Butts. Barlow ‘had served in the British East India Company and had been involved in action in the China seas with the French navy’ (Gordon Bell, ‘Chester and the Art of Watercolour’, The Collegian, 2005, p 26). However, there is no record that Henry Barlow Carter followed in his uncle’s footsteps and served in the navy, as has been suggested.
Two watercolours in the British Museum dated 1824, of the breakwaters of Plymouth Dock, provide the starting point for tracing Carter’s artistic development, which was influenced by the example of J M W Turner (and also Peter DeWint, whose work he collected). While living in Plymouth, he exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts (1827-30), and would also show at the British Institution and the Society of British Artists.
By 1830, Carter had moved to Kingston upon Hull, in Yorkshire, to work as a drawing master.
Making contact with relatives in County Durham, he fell in love with his cousin Eliza. They married at St Mary’s Parish Church, Scarborough, Yorkshire, in July 1830, and settled in the developing coastal resort, Carter establishing himself as a drawing master. They lived at increasingly better addresses: Auborough Street, Queen Street and then, from 1845, 16 York Place.
Carter continued to paint in Hull through the 1830s. The Carters’ first son, Henry Vandyke Carter, was born there in 1831 and, though christened and raised in Scarborough, would be educated at Hull Grammar School. Both Henry Vandyke and his brother, Joseph Newington, received lessons from their father. While J N Carter developed as a painter, H V Carter studied medicine, and produced the illustrations for the first edition of Gray’s Anatomy (1858), before becoming a pioneer in tropical epidemiology.
Henry Barlow Carter worked closely with Solomon Wilkinson Theakston, the Scarborough bookseller, stationer and printer, who was based in Long Room Street during the 1830s, and later in St Nicholas Street. In 1840, Theakston produced his first Guide to Scarborough, with twenty-two illustrations, drawn by Carter and wood-engraved by Stephen Sly, a publication that would be expanded over the years. Theakston also published souvenir images by Carter as Sixteen Views of Scarborough (wood-engraved by Sly) and Four Views of Scarborough (lithographed by Day & Haghe). The enterprising Mr Theakston would go on to set up a circulating library, a news room and an art gallery and, in 1845, founded the Scarborough Gazette.
Carter’s circle of friends also included the miniaturist, Edward Westoby, who lived in Scarborough during the 1840s and 50s.
Five years after the death of his wife in 1857, Carter left Scarborough and moved – via Bath – to Torquay. His known addresses there were Geneva Cottages (1862) and Scarborough Lodge (1863). He died in Torquay of bronchitis in 1868.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the British Museum and the V&A; and Hull Maritime Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery.