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 Lyell E. Carr  (1857 - 1912)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois      Known for: cotton genre, animal, landscape, marine

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Ad Code: 3
Lyell E Carr
from Auction House Records.
The Westchester Stage Coach
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Lyell Carr is a painter who deserves to be better known for scenes that accurately and charmingly portray life in the South at the close of the nineteenth century. Carr was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1857. By the time he was twenty-three, he had a studio in that city, but in late 1880 or early 1881 he moved to New York, which he would make his home for the rest of his life. There he would become associated with artists of the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists.

For one year, in 1884, Carr studied in Paris. He enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where his teachers were J.J. Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. These masters emphasized the importance of drawing to good painting. The effect of their training on Carr was such that his style throughout his career was characterized by the firm definition of form and a realistic handling of space.

Returning to New York, Carr plied the trades of decorator and artist. He provided interior decorations for the townhouse of Thomas Ryan, while regularly exhibiting his paintings in the large annuals at the National Academy of Design and The Art Institute of Chicago. His paintings entered many fine collections. A Ride Home at Sunset (1891) was purchased from Carr by Thomas B. Clarke of New York, who was at that time the leading patron of contemporary American artists. In the Clarke home Carr's painting hung with those of Winslow Homer, Frederic E. Church, and Thomas Moran. (1)

Paintings such as Opossum Snout (1881), Plantation Picked, The Cracker's Daughter, and A Shower in the Blue Ridge suggest Carr's many seasons spent in the South from the early 1880s until after the turn of the century. "The Cotton Broker", when exhibited in New York in 1894, elicited a glowing review from the critic for the Times. The review not only vouches for the appeal of Carr's subject but also for the manner in which he painted it.

The Cotton Broker by Lyell Carr, is so exceptional as to form an oasis for those who are not interested in experiments and studio cleverness, but ask that a picture shall tell them a nice little story. Here is the railway station, the Georgia freedman with his old cart and steers, one of which has lain down, his few bales of cotton, and his market. The market is a typical Southerner, who is testing the staple of a bit of the white stuff, while the negro has unconsciously assumed a lowly position more suited to slave days than the present. There are painters here who could give more vividly the sunlight that bathes this scene, but only M. Carr's long acquaintance with the South permits him to give so much character to the representatives of the two races. Each year he sends a slightly better work to the North."

Carr was at the height of his popularity when he died quite suddenly in his studio on February 17, 1912. A neighboring artist tried to save him, but it was too late. Carr, who never married, was survived by a brother in South Dakota. (2)

1H. Barbara Weinberg, "Thomas B. Clarke: Foremost Patron of American Art from 1872 to 1899," The American Art Journal, vol. 8, (May 1976), p. 12.

2New York Times, February 18, 1912.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the Hicklin Galleries, LLC.


Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
LYELL CARR (1857-1912)

Lyell Carr is a painter who deserves to be better known for scenes that accurately and charmingly portray life in the South at the close of the nineteenth century. Carr was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1857. By the time he was twenty-three, he had a studio in that city, but in late 1880 or early 1881 he moved to New York, which he would make his home for the rest of his life. There he would become associated with artists of the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists.

For one year, in 1884, Carr studied in Paris. He enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where his teachers were J.J. Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. These masters emphasized the importance of drawing to good painting. The effect of their training on Carr was such that his style throughout his career was characterized by the firm definition of form and a realistic handling of space.

Returning to New York, Carr plied the trades of decorator and artist. He provided interior decorations for the townhouse of Thomas Ryan, while regularly exhibiting his paintings in the large annuals at the National Academy of Design and The Art Institute of Chicago. His paintings entered many fine collections. "A Ride Home at Sunset" (1891) was purchased from Carr by Thomas B. Clarke of New York, who was at that time the leading patron of contemporary American artists. In the Clarke home Carr's painting hung with those of Winslow Homer, Frederic E. Church, and Thomas Moran.1

Paintings such as "Opossum Snout" (1881), "Plantation Picked", "The Cracker's Daughter", and "A Shower in the Blue Ridge" suggest Carr's many seasons spent in the South from the early 1880s until after the turn of the century. "The Cotton Broker", when exhibited in New York in 1894, elicited a glowing review from the critic for the Times. The review, part of which is quoted below, not only vouches for the appeal of Carr's subject but also for the manner in which he painted it.

" `The Cotton Broker,' by Lyell Carr, is so exceptional as to form an oasis for those who are not interested in experiments and studio clevernesses, but ask that a picture shall tell them a nice little story. Here is the railway station, the Georgia freedman with his old cart and steers, one of which has lain down, his few bales of cotton, and his market. The market is a typical Southerner, who is testing the staple of a bit of the white stuff, while the negro has unconsciously assumed a lowly position more suited to slave days than the present. There are painters here who could give more vividly the sunlight that bathes this scene, but only M. Carr's long acquaintance with the South permits him to give so much character to the representatives of the two races. Each year he sends a slightly better work to the North.

Carr was at the height of his popularity when he died quite suddenly in his studio on February 17, 1912. A neighboring artist tried to save him, but it was too late. Carr was survived by a brother in South Dakota. He never married" (2)


(1H). Barbara Weinberg, "Thomas B. Clarke: Foremost Patron of American Art from 1872 to 1899," The American Art Journal, vol. 8, (May 1976), p. 12.

(2)New York Times, February 18, 1912.

The Charleston Renaissance Gallery.

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