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Frederick Carter

1883 - 1967

The Seven Candles by Frederick Carter

The Seven Candles   1926

  Original engraved woodblock, accompanied by a signed large paper proof impression of this wood engraving.
Woodblock inscribed with the title in pencil on the edge of the block.
Block: 101 x 65 mm. Proof: S 297 x 268 mm; I 97 x 65 mm
Original Fredrick Carter wood engraving.

The original engraved woodblock engraved for Frederick Carter’s seminal work The Dragon of the Alchemists a book of Drawings by Frederick Carter (Elkin Mathews Ltd., London, 1926). Unique.

The intricate wood engravings of Frederick Carter have always been considered to be the artist’s greatest works. Their inspired designs brought him three successive gold medals for book illustration in the National Competition, South Kensington - the most prestigious award of his day. Frederick Carter developed an unique, almost calligraphic style of wood engraving, shown to particular effect in this imaginatively worked block. He began by drawing his original design in ink directly on to the wood block and then either he, or his assistant W.M.R.Quick, would carve away the surrounding wood, leaving only the lines of the original drawing standing proud to form the printing surface.

Frederick Carter’s deep interest in alchemy and all aspects of the supernatural and the occult, led him to produce an esoteric symbolism which is apparent throughout his work. Nowhere is this displayed more clearly than in his works for The Dragon of the Alchemists. Frederick Carter provided no explanation regarding the significance of the imagery in this engraving which combines symbols of established religion with those of mysticism and it is likely that he intended the meaning of this image to remain shrouded in mystery.

A great believer in the power of the subconscious, Frederick Carter had experimented with automatic drawing between 1915 and 1924, along with fellow symbolist Austin Osman Spare. He hoped that this might prove to be a means of releasing suppressed associations and images from the subliminal, through which he, like the early alchemists, might discover the essence of life itself.

Frederick Carter re-used this block for his book entitled Symbols of Revelation, published by Adam Fitzadam, London, 1934.

The block is inscribed along one side in ink The Candlestick. It is in very fine condition and would print successfully in its present state.

This item is sold together with a rare signed proof impression printed from this block. The accompanying proof is printed on fine simile Japan paper, with unusually large margins and deckle edge, and is in very good original condition. Both block and proof come from the artist’s personal collection – a collection which has remained intact until the present day.