Carrick, Thomas (DNB00)

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CARRICK, THOMAS (1802–1875), miniature painter, was born on 4 July 1802 at Upperby, near Carlisle in Cumberland. He was the second child of John Carrick, cotton-mill owner of that city, by his wife, Mary Anderson. He was educated at the Carlisle grammar school, and by his uncle, the Rev. John Topping. As an artist Carrick was entirely self-taught; his skill in portraiture was evidenced at an extraordinarily early age. Having quarrelled with one of the members of his family, he suddenly quitted his home, and was taken into the employment of a chemist in Carlisle named Brunel, who soon began to take great interest in his advancement. Carrick eventually became himself a chemist in his native city. His heart was so entirely given over to painting, however, that he much neglected his business. He had been painting miniatures for several years before he had ever seen a miniature from any hand but his own. The first that then came under his notice was one from the easel of Sir William Charles Ross. Carrick had already painted the likenesses of many well-known persons in the north country; among these was Charles Kean when he was just beginning to win popularity as a provincial actor. Carrick in 1829 married Mary Mulcaster, by whom he had five children. Being by that time in thoroughly good repute at Carlisle as a miniature painter, he soon afterwards gave up his business, and in 1836 moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In November 1839 he removed with his family to London. Two years afterwards he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy. Among his most remarkable sitters were Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, the poets Rogers and Wordsworth, Caroline Norton and Eliza Cook, Farren and Macready, Lablache and Longfellow. He was painting at the same time (in the early part of 1844) Daniel O'Connell, Blomfield the bishop of London, and Robert Owen the socialist. His vivacity as a conversationalist, and his store of anecdotes, enabled him to awaken the interest of his sitters and seize the characteristic expression. His miniature of Thomas Carlyle was notable as one of his most brilliant successes; yet while it was in progress Mrs. Carlyle more than once exclaimed that she was sure it would never be like her husband, seeing that she had never heard him laugh so much or so heartily as when he was sitting to Mr. Carrick. Carrick was simple-minded and unambitious. Though more than once offered an associateship in the Royal Academy, he invariably declined it. From 1841 to 1866 he annually exhibited the full number, eight, of his miniatures. Photography having virtually annihilated the art of miniature painting, Carrick in 1868 abandoned his profession, and withdrew to Newcastle. There, seven years later, he died on 31 July 1875. Thirty years previously the prince consort had presented him with a medal in reward for his invention of painting miniatures on marble. Immediately before the close of his career in the metropolis the Royal Academy awarded him the Turner annuity, which just then happened to be vacant.

[Personal knowledge; memoranda by Carrick's daughter, Isabel Allom; Royal Academy Catalogues, 1841–66.]

C. K.