Alexander Carse

Alexander Carse, about 1770 - 1843. Artist (Self-portrait) (Probably Alexander Carse with his mother and sister) (About 1795)

About this artwork

This small interior scene is believed to depict the artist, Alexander Carse, with his mother and sister. Gathered around a table, the two siblings listen while their mother reads from the large family bible. Around them, everything refers to Carse’s profession – from the paintings stacked against the mantelpiece to the plaster model on the cabinet and the wooden palette on the wall. During his time as a student at the Trustees’ Academy, Carse studied prints after Dutch art, and the influence of Dutch still lifes and genre paintings is evident. Each member of the family is depicted with realism and quiet humour. The small size of the painting only adds to the intimacy of the scene.

Alexander Carse

Alexander Carse

Carse was an assistant to David Allan before the artist's death in 1796, and undoubtedly received preliminary artistic training from him. Allan's influence on Carse's small, vivacious genre scenes is evident. In 1801, he attended the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh, but this training did not yield the benefits and success that it did for his contemporaries like David Wilkie, and later in life Carse described himself as 'a painter, chiefly of domestic, familiar and poetical subjects'. Carse's pictures combine an honest realism with charm and wit. He was adept at capturing the different manners and customs of town and country folk, and recognised that the distinctions between these two ways of life were rapidly becoming fainter.