Carter, the Colourman
Private Collection, UK
Beale’s red chalk drawings are amongst the most spontaneous and powerful drawings produced in England in the seventeenth century. They are particularly unusual in their lack of formality. This drawing almost certainly comes from Charles Beale’s ‘3d Book 1680’ which is now in the British Museum. Originally, the sketchbook contained ninety-seven drawings (according to an inscription by a later owner, J.Wakeford) but now only has eighty-eight. The sheet size is identical to the ones in the British Museum sketchbook and the medium is the same. In the sketchbook there are several drawings of Carter (see Fig.1) and his family.
According to Vertue, Carter the Colourman was ‘intimate in the Beale family’ (v,p14). He supplied the pigments to Mary Beale. Vertue also noted that Carter owned the papers and notebooks of Charles Beale the Elder. Vertue later made extracts from at least seven ‘bought at a book stall by a Friend of mine’ and probably half a dozen others owned by Dr Richard Rawlinson who later left his collections to Oxford University. Carter was still alive in 1742 when Vertue recorded his memories of Mary Beale and her family (see Drawings in England from Hilliard to Hogarth, London, 1987, pp 213-217).