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Frederick Carter (1883 - 1967)

Painter and etcher born in Bradford, Yorkshire. He abandoned an early career as a surveyor and engineer but studied art in Paris, 1904, Antwerp, 1909-10 and London 1908-11, where he learnt his etching techniques under Frank Short. He showed at the RA, ROI, NEAC and was elected ARE in 1912. His artistic life before and after the World War I was centred around the Fitzroy Street area of London, and the Dieppe restaurant in Dean Street. He became a mystic symbolist artist, involved with Aleister Crowley and worked on illustrations for D.H. Lawrence's Apocalypse. He was also a friend of Austin Osmond Spare and helped with his theories of automatic drawing. From 1922 he taught etching at Liverpool School of Art and during the 1930's he abandon printmaking for writing but continued to paint until the late 1950's. His work is in the collections of the BM and V&A. A retrospective exhibition was held at the 20th Century Gallery, Fulham, London, 1998. Richard Grenville Clark's 1998 publication Frederick Carter A.R.G. 1883-1967. A Study of his Etchings catalogues the artist's output and examines each period of his career and techniques.


We are grateful to Michael Campbell for the following note:

The intricate wood engravings of Frederick Carter have always been considered to be the artist’s greatest works. Their inspired designs brought him three successive gold medals for book illustration in the National Competition, South Kensington - the most prestigious award of his day. Frederick Carter developed an unique, almost calligraphic style of wood engraving - he would begin by drawing his original design in ink directly on to the wood block and then either he, or his assistant W.M.R.Quick, would carve away the surrounding wood, leaving only the lines of the original drawing standing proud to form the printing surface.

A great believer in the power of the subconscious, Frederick Carter had experimented with automatic drawing between 1915 and 1924, along with fellow symbolist Austin Osman Spare. He hoped that this might prove to be a means of releasing suppressed associations and images from the subliminal, through which he, like the early alchemists, might discover the essence of life itself.

Frederick Carter’s deep interest in alchemy and all aspects of the supernatural and the occult, led him to produce an esoteric symbolism which is apparent throughout his work. Nowhere is this displayed more clearly than in his works for The Dragon of the Alchemists. Frederick Carter provided little or no explanation regarding the significance of his imagery which combines symbols of established religion with those of mysticism and it is likely that he intended the meaning of many of his images to remain shrouded in mystery.

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Artist Frederick Carter: The Spanish Beggar, circa 1928
Frederick Carter
The Spanish Beggar, circa 1928  For sale
£475
Artist Frederick Carter: The Angel in Midheaven (The Angel Messenger)
Frederick Carter
The Angel in Midheaven (The Angel...  For sale
£675
Artist Frederick Carter: Apocolypse
Frederick Carter
Apocolypse  For sale
£445
Artist Frederick Carter: Perseus,, circa 1926
Frederick Carter
Perseus,, circa 1926  For sale
£960
Artist Frederick Carter: Silence in Heaven, 1925
Frederick Carter
Silence in Heaven, 1925  For sale
£360
Artist Frederick Carter: The Four Winds of the Apocalypse, 1925
Frederick Carter
The Four Winds of the Apocalypse, 1925  For sale
£360
Artist Frederick Carter: The Babe of Fire
Frederick Carter
The Babe of Fire  For sale
£1500
Artist Frederick Carter: The Apotheosis of Colombine (1910-11)
Frederick Carter
The Apotheosis of Colombine (1910-11)  For sale
£1250
Artist Frederick Carter: The Balance, c.1918
Frederick Carter
The Balance, c.1918  For sale
£1800
Artist Frederick Carter: A Dance - Desire, 1911
Frederick Carter
A Dance - Desire, 1911  For sale
£245
Artist Frederick Carter: Escape, circa 1915
Frederick Carter
Escape, circa 1915  For sale
£975
Artist Frederick Carter: The Angel of Fire c. 1918
Frederick Carter
The Angel of Fire c. 1918  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: The Choice
Frederick Carter
The Choice  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: Moonshine
Frederick Carter
Moonshine  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: The Trumpets
Frederick Carter
The Trumpets  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: Babylon is Fallen
Frederick Carter
Babylon is Fallen  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: The Trumpets
Frederick Carter
The Trumpets  Sold 
Artist Frederick Carter: The Bride (New Jerusalem), circa 1918
Frederick Carter
The Bride (New Jerusalem), circa 1918  Sold