March 1835 – 1 May 1892

Samuel John Carter was a renowned British artist and illustrator celebrated for his exquisite paintings and drawings of animals. His legacy extends beyond his artistic prowess, as he is also remembered as the father of the famed archaeologist Howard Carter.

Born in Swaffham, Norfolk, in March 1835, Carter was raised in an environment where artistry thrived. His early artistic education was under the tutelage of John Sell Cotman, who ran a drawing school in Swaffham. Carter’s talent and dedication soon became evident as he honed his skills in animal depiction.

Setting up his base in both London and Swaffham, Carter gained recognition as an animal painter, specializing in wildlife and hunting scenes. He became the principal animal illustrator for the Illustrated London News from 1867 to 1889, showcasing his exceptional ability to capture the essence of various creatures through his artwork. Additionally, Carter worked as an animal portrait painter in his native Norfolk, receiving commissions to immortalize clients’ beloved horses and dogs on canvas.

Carter’s talent was not confined to the canvas; he exhibited regularly at the prestigious Royal Academy, earning praise from notable figures like John Ruskin. In 1858, at the age of 22, he married Martha Joyce in Swaffham, and together they raised a large family of 11 children, with many inheriting their father’s artistic aptitude.

Among Carter’s offspring, Howard stood out for his archaeological achievements. Renowned for his meticulous replication of Egyptian tomb decorations, Howard Carter gained international fame for his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Despite his remarkable career, Carter faced health challenges, including at least one stroke. He passed away on 1 May 1892, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the art world. Howard Carter fondly remembered his father as “one of the most powerful draughtsmen” he ever knew, highlighting Samuel John Carter’s unparalleled skill in depicting animals with precision and ease.

Through his enduring body of work and the remarkable achievements of his descendants, Samuel John Carter’s influence continues to resonate in the realms of art and archaeology.