Some years ago I was given a book with a number of illustrations by an artist whose name I had never come across before. He was James William Carling, whom I shall continue to refer to as James Carling.There was a short biography of his life but not enough to satisfy my growing interest in him. His life and death could be compared to a Greek tragedy or the works of Shakespeare. He had been born into poverty in the 1850s and begged on the streets of his home town Liverpool, from a very early age and the more I looked at his illustrations the more I felt compelled to delve further into his life.
I soon realised that I was researching much more than James, it was the lives of five brothers, and all of them were artists in their own right. All of the boys were born during the 1850s, two of them in Hull, Yorkshire, the others in the Vauxhall and Scotland Road areas of Liverpool. This was a community made up mainly of people who had escaped the Great Hunger (famine) in Ireland in the1840s. The boys had an older sister, Catherine, born 1846 in Ireland, followed by William four years later, then John, Henry, Terence and James. Their parents, Henry and Rose Carling, had passed a love of the arts onto their children. Henry senior instilled in them his belief that he came from a long line of talented Irish ancestors. Henry’s father was a ballad writer, composing both words and music. However, it was on their mother’s side that the boys inherited their ability to draw, there having been several artists of prominence in her family.
More examples of James Carling's work
The Lakes Melrose Abbey Addison and Fontinoy Riot
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