Sydney Carter, son of artist Richard Carter, was born in Enfield, Middlesex in 1874 completed his art education in England before moving to South Africa in 1923. From 1889 – 1890 he attended Buckhurst Hill Art School before spending the next five years until 1895 at Walthamstow School of Art. Carter completed his training at the Royal College of Art in London, from 1897 – 1899, where he was awarded a British Institute Scholarship.
In 1924, Carter was elected a fellow of the Cape Town Society of Arts and Crafts and began teaching at the Witwatersrand Technical College in 1927. He completed several major public commissions including five landscape murals in Jeppe Street Post Office, Johannesburg and two murals in Cape Town Post Office in 1938.
Carter’s extensive exhibition record is testament to his artistic talent. He was first accepted to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1894, where he continued to show works until the late 1930s. He also exhibited consistently with the Royal Society of British Artists in Water Colour and from 1924 – 1940 at the Paris Salon. After moving to South Africa, Carter became a regular exhibitor with the South African Academy as well as holding numerous solo shows and was represented in the Empire Exhibition in Johannesburg in 1986.
Carter was a versatile and prolific artist who mastered a number of genres including landscape, portraiture, murals and book illustration. He illustrated editions of works by notable authors such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, yet specialised mainly in portraiture and landscape painting. Carter’s brushwork and colour are characterised by broken strokes and patches of light on dark, which relates him to numerous contemporary British artists and South African painters William Timlin and Gwelo Goodman.
As a newly arrived artist from Britain, Carter’s popularity escalated immediately and he is now post-humously recognised as one of South Africa’s most admired and appreciated artists of the 1920s and 1930s. His work is represented in notable public collections including the Africana Museum, Johannesburg, Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa National Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, A.C. White Art Gallery and the Pretoria Art Museum among others.