William Carrick was born in Edinburgh on 31 December 1827. He moved with his family, the following year, .to St Petersburg where the family had a timber business.
William Carrick studied architecture at St Petersburg Academy of Arts for nine years from 1844, then took up watercolour.
He then travelled to Rome, as a painter, then returned to St Petersburg in 1856.
In 1857, he came back to Edinburgh and learnt photography from James Good Tunny, then set up a studio in 1859 with John MacGregor, who was also taught by Tunny.
William Carrick produced a series of cartes de visite of 'Russian Types', featuring different types and trades of Russians. When business was quiet, he brought chimney sweeps, knife grinders, the postman and many others into his studio to be photographed.
He produced cartes de visite of these 'Russian Types' and sold them the tourists visiting Russia. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has a number of these attractive cartes de visite, together with a number of other Carrick photos including a self-portrait.
Carrick's interest in photographing the Russian people continued. In the 1870s, he travelled twice to the interior of Russia, photographing the landscape and its people.
His photography continued until 1878. In that year, he died of pneumonia.
Photography in St Petersburg
Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, visited St Petersburg in 1859, the year that Carrick opened his studio and commented:
"There is scarcely a more frequent sign to be met with along all the principal streets than 'PHOTOGRAPHER'; and all the specimens exhibited outside the studios, chiefly large-size portraits, were among the finest things we have ever seen in that line."
[Three Cities in Russia, 1862, P.308 (Charles Piazzi Smyth). Thank you to Julie Lawson for this quote.]
Details above are taken mainly from the following:
- Scottish Masters Series, No 3: William Carrick 1827-1878 (Felicity Ashbee & Julie Lawson) ISBN 0 903148 76 5
A Companion Guide to Photography in the National Galleries of Scotland
(Sara Stevenson & Duncan Forbes)
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