(ﬂ. 1780 – 1800)
John Carter's precise dates are not known, but he worked from the 1770s up until the end of the eighteenth century from addresses close to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, first at a shop in Little Drury Lane off the Strand from at least 1773, and from 1781 in Wysh Street. Despite having a shop of his own, Carter largely worked for the trade. Occasional instruments are branded 'I.CARTER' on the back, ...Read More following the London style of the period, rarely labelled, but more commonly his name is found inside instruments labelled or branded for sale by other makers.
Carter's early career appears to have been strongly linked to the workshop of Richard Duke (active until 1783), producing violins that are comparable with Duke's highest standards using the same distinctive brown varnish, choice of wood, and showing comparable precision, and probably made with the intention of being sold by Duke, who used various outworkers for different qualities of instrument. He supplied the same quality of instruments to other dealers around London and examples from the early 1780s are stamped for Longman & Broderip. In 1782 Duke’s apprentice, John Betts established his own business at the Royal Exchange, and Carter’s style transformed to follow Betts’ new ideals of closely emulating Cremonese masterpieces. Part of this trend is seen in Carter’s outwork for the inventor Joseph Merlin. Despite Merlins claims as ‘Cremonae Emulus’, instruments made by Carter in the 1770s have nothing to differentiate them from London trade work, but a violin made for Merlin in 1785 must – surprisingly - owe its pattern to Carlo Bergonzi, the Cremonese-styled soundholes set close to the edge differentiating it from all London work of the period. During this period Carter used striking wood for the back, and appears largely to have followed a narrow Amati model, with pinched arching typical of English fashion at the time and using a thin and lustrous golden varnish that may have closely approximated Amati’s when the instruments were made. These instruments occasionally stamped or even labelled for John Betts, and consistent with the best work produced under his name.
- The auction record for this maker is $6,600 in May 2016, for a cello.
- 3 auction price results.
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