Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carey, William Paulet

CAREY, WILLIAM PAULET (1759–1839), art critic, brother of John and Mathew Carey [q. v.], was born in Ireland in 1759. He began life as a painter and afterwards became an engraver. He did the copperplates in Geoffrey Gambado's (H. Bunbury's) 'Annals of Horsemanship,' Dublin, 1792, and several plates in a collection of ethical maxims published by E. Grattan in Dublin. He discontinued the practice of his profession owing to an accident to his eyes, but he retained a great love for the arts. For more than fifty years his pen was employed in advocating the claims of modern and national art, most of his writings being distributed gratuitously. He was one of the first to recognise the genius of Chantrey, the sculptor, in the 'Sheffield Iris' in 1805. He was proud of having brought James Montgomery, the poet, into prominence, and in later years he wrote letters in the Cork and Dublin papers which had the effect of attracting attention to the work of Hogan, the sculptor. He is said to have been a United Irishman. In 1806 he wrote a pamphlet in defence of the Princess of Wales; in 1820 he published two other pamphlets, 'The Conspiracies of 1806 and 1813 against the Princess of Wales linked with the atrocious conspiracies of 1820 against the Queen of England,' and 'The Present Plot showed by the Past,' &c. On the cover of the latter he advertised a work in two volumes on the same subject. He was a dealer in pictures, prints, and other works of art, and was one of the principal persons consulted by Sir J. F. Leicester, afterwards Lord De Tabley, in the formation of his gallery. For several years he had an establishment in Marylebone Street, London. In the exercise or his calling he visited many towns, and finally settled in Birmingham about 1834. In that year he contributed to the 'Analyst,' a quarterly journal issued in that town. He died at Birmingham 21 May 1839, aged 80.

The list of his separate writings on art is as follows:

  1. 'Thoughts on the best mode of checking the Prejudices against British Works of Art,' York, 1801, 8vo.
  2. 'A Critical Description of the Procession of Chaucer's Pilgrims to Canterbury,' painted by Stothard, Lond. 1808, 8vo; second edition 1818.
  3. 'Letter to J. A. (Colonel Anderdon), a Connoisseur in London,' Manchester, 1809, 12mo.
  4. 'Cursory Thoughts on the Present State of the Fine Arts,' Liverpool, 1810, 12mo.
  5. 'Recommendation of the Stained Glass Window of the Transfiguration for St. James's Church, Westminster,' 1815.
  6. 'Memoirs of Bartolozzi,' in the 'European Magazine,' vols. lxvii. and lxviii. 1815. This ran through six numbers, but was not finished.

'Critical Description and Analytical Reviews of Death upon the Pale Horse,' painted by Benjamin West, 1817, 8vo. An edition was published at Philadelphia in 1836.

  1. 'A Descriptive Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings by British Artists in the possession at Sir John Fleming Leicester,' 1819, 8vo.
  2. 'Desultory Exposition of an Anti-British System of Incendiary Publication,' &c. 1819, 8vo.
  3. 'Addenda to H. Reveley's Notices illustrative of the Masters,' 1820.
  4. 'Memoirs of B. West, R.A.,' in 'Colburn's New Monthly Magazine,' 1820.
  5. 'Variæ: Historical Observations on Anti-British and Anti-Contemporanian Prejudices,' &c, 1822, 8vo.
  6. 'Patronage of Irish Genius,' Dublin, 1823, 8vo.
  7. . 'Critical Catalogue of the Verville Collection,' 1823.
  8. 'The National Obstacle to the National Public Style considered,' 1825, 8vo.
  9. 'Some Memoirs of the Patronage and Progress of the Fine Arts in England … with Anecdotes of Lord De Tabley,' 1820. 8vo, pp. 361.
  10. 'Syllabus of a Course of Six Historical Lectures on the Arts of Design,' Glasgow, 1828.
  11. 'Appeal to the Directors of the Royal Irish Institution,' Dublin, 1828, 8vo.
  12. 'Observations on the Primary Object of the British Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts,' Newcastle, 1829.
  13. 'Brief Remarks on the Anti-British Effect of Inconsiderate Criticism on Modern Art and the Exhibitions of the Living British Artists,' London, 1831, 8vo.
  14. 'Ridolfi's Critical Letters,' Leeds, 1831.
  15. 'Ridolfi's Critical Letters on the Style of William Etty,' &c., Nottingham, 1838.
  16. 'Lorenzo's Critical Letters on the First Exhibition of the Worcester Institution,' second series. Worcester, 1834, 4to. A third series was issued in the following year.
  17. 'Syllabus of various Lectures on the Fine Arts.'

An unfinished work of his was a 'Life of Alderman John Boydell,' which was projected to fill two royal quarto volumes.

One of his daughters, Elizabeth Sheridan Carey, wrote a volume of poems called 'Ivy Leaves,' privately printed in 1837. She joined the Roman catholic church.

[W. Bates in Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 481; Gent. Mag. February 1842, p. 139; Webb's Comp. of Irish Biog. (1878). p. 73; Allibone's Dict. of Authors; Holland and Everett's Mem. of James Montgomery, ii. 40, 73. 102. iii. 355; J. Holland's Memorials of Chantrey. p. 192; Universal Catal. of Books on Art, 1870, i. 229, Suppl. p. 125; private information.]

C. W. S.