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He was the son of Samuel John Carter and Martha Joyce Carter, nee Sands (Crystalinks 2005). His father was a well-known artist whose subjects were mostly animals (Reeves and Taylor 1993, 11). In Carter's own autobiographical sketches, he notes, "I can hardly find any trace of my father in myself, except an inborn faculty for drawing, which unfortunately, in my case, was never fully cultivated" (11).