Carte, Viola (1848-1926)

Carte, Viola (1848-1926)

British artist, Viola Carte spent her days immersed in a world of creative pursuits amid the glittering lives of London’s elite. Her older brother, Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), was a famous impresario who founded two leading theatres, along with the Savoy Hotel. He also brought together W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan - a collaboration resulting in 13 operas.

The family was blessed with imagination, her father, Richard (1808-1891), was a concert flautist and her mother, Eliza (1814-1885), a keen lover of the arts. They spoke French at home for two days a week. Can you imagine her lifestyle? Music, theatre, celebrity - the high life indeed.

This vibrant infusion of diverse creativity surely underpinned Viola’s own talent for drawing, painting and piano. At 27, she debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Betwixt this mood and that’ and two years later with ‘Fair, kind and true’. She was known as a figure painter but also produced portraits.

16 years elapsed before Carte exhibited at the Academy for the third time and it’s interesting to consider why. Perhaps the realities of motherhood took priority - it wasn’t easy for Victorian women to retain their independence.

Today, much of Viola’s life remains a mystery and she’s somewhat overshadowed by her gregarious brother. But it’s clear, from the work she left behind, that she had a talent for capturing a subject’s spirit.


Born in Hampstead, London, UK.


Exhibited ‘Betwixt this mood and that’ at the Royal Academy.


Exhibited ‘Fair, kind and true’ at the Royal Academy.


Exhibited ‘Daisy, daughter of Henry Fellows, Esq’ at the Royal Academy.


Died in Reading, Berkshire, UK.

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