William Carrick

About the author

An outstanding photographer, William Carrick  (1827–1878) was born in Scotland. He spent most part of his life in Russia, and his name has a special place in the history of Russian photography, especially the early period of Russian photography and its influence on Russian Realist painting.

In 1853 Carrick graduated from the Imperial Academy of Arts and later left for Rome where he lived until 1856 studying watercolor painting. It was then when he took up photography that was rapidly coming into fashion. He became very passionate about it, seeing it as an “art of future”. He learned the technique of photography in Edinburgh, during a trip he made with his family in 1857.


In early 1859, William Carrick opened his photography studio in St.Petersburg, to work there with his friend and companion, John MacGregor, a Scotchman, too. The studio was first located in 19 Malaya Morskaya, later moved to 1/6 in the 5th line of Vassilievsky Island. It was in the 1860s that Carrick created his collection of St. Petersburg “street types”. Based on the old art tradition, this series was comprised of “carte-de-visite” studio portraits of chambermaids, coachmen, grinders et c. Carrick soon became one of the first photographers to move from studio work to location shooting, capturing live scenes in the streets of St. Petersburg and its suburbs, in the province of Novgorod and in Finland. His photographs of the life of common people, main concern of the Russian progressive society in the 1860s, were received by many as “serious help to painting”.

In 1869 Carrick’s Country Life series was well received at the anniversary exhibition at the Imperial Academy of Art.

In the 1870’s he traveled several times to the provinces of Yaroslavl’, Kostroma, Kazan and Simbirsk, where he made about 700 photographs in “cabinet portrait” format. Notable for their masterful composition and expression, Carrick’s photographs are closely associated with the Russian Realist painting, especially as the artists belonging to Itinerants movement used Carrick’s images in working on their paintings.

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