“J(oseph William) Comyns Carr (1 March 1849 – 12 December 1916) was an English drama and art critic, gallery director, author, poet, playwright and theatre manager. He was born in Marylebone, Middlesex, the seventh of ten children. His parents were Jonathan Carr, a woollen draper, and his Irish wife, Catherine Grace Comyns. Kate Comyns Carr, Joseph’s sister, became a portrait artist; his brother Jonathan Carr developed the world’s first garden suburb, Bedford Park.
Beginning his career as an art critic, Carr was a vigorous advocate for Pre-Raphaelite art and a vocal critic of the “short-sighted” art establishment. In 1877 he became a director of the Grosvenor Gallery and promoted Pre-Raphaelite painters and other important exhibitors, such as James McNeill Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. Ten years later he founded the rival New Gallery.
Carr also wrote essays, books, plays, librettos, English-language adaptations of foreign works and stage adaptations of Dickens novels and classic tales like King Arthur and Faust.
In 1873 in Dresden, Carr married Alice Laura Vansittart née Strettell (1850–1927), a novelist and designer.
Carr leased the Comedy Theatre, Panton Street, from 1893 to 1896. At the same time, his King Arthur (1895), a blank verse play inspired by the writings of Thomas Malory and Alfred Tennyson, as well as by the visual images of the Pre-Raphaelites, was produced by Henry Irving in the Lyceum Theatre. It starred Irving and Ellen Terry, with music composed by Arthur Sullivan and sets, costumes and artwork designed by Carr’s friend Edward Burne-Jones. This spectacular production was a success for Irving and ran for over 100 performances, also touring North America
At the Royal Opera House in 1913–14, Carr was artistic adviser. A fan of Richard Wagner, he was responsible for the first English performance of Wagner’s Parsifal on 2nd February, 1914 at Covent Garden.
Carr published two memoirs: Some Eminent Victorians (1908), and Coasting Bohemia (1914).”