Constantine

  • About the work
    This painting depicts the northern Algerian city of Constantine, while also demonstrating Henry Marvell Carr’s adept way of handling paint to convey the quality of light. Situated to the east of Algiers, Constantine is built on a rocky outcrop and is surrounded by a steep gorge on three sides. The Rhumel River flows through the eastern side of the gorge.
    Ancient Constantine was an important town in Numidia and reached its height during the second century BC, when it was known as Cirta. Under Julius Caesar a Roman settlement was established on the site, which later acted as the head of a confederation of four Roman colonies in north Africa. Cirta was destroyed during the war during the rule of the Roman Emperor Maxentius and the Numidian Alexander; when its restoration was completed in 313 AD, it was renamed Constantine after the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The city became part of the Muslim Arab empire following its siege in 674-678, amidst the Arab-Byzantine wars.
    During the late eighteenth century, the ruler Salah Bey made a number of changes to the face of the city; many of the existing Muslim buildings date to his rule. In 1826 Constantine became independent of rule from Algiers, but in just over a decade was occupied by the French in 1837. Carr’s work in Constantine was undertaken at a time during the Second World War when both Constantine and the nearby town of Sétif were strategic command bases for the Allies.
  • About the artist
    Born in Leeds, Henry Marvell Carr studied at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. During the First World War he served in France in the Royal Field Artillery, and during the Second World War he worked as an Official War Artist in North Africa and Italy. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon from the early 1920s until his death in 1970. He also taught for a number of years at Beckenham Art School, where he was made head of the School. He wrote a treatise on portrait painting in 1952, and was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1956. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters made him a Fellow in 1948 and he was elected a Royal Academician in 1966.
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  • Details
    Title
    Constantine
    Date
    1943
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 51.00 cm, width: 90.50 cm
    Acquisition
    Presented via the Imperial War Museum, War Artists' Advisory Committee, April 1946
    Inscription
    br: HENRY CARR 43
    GAC number
    125