Joshua Canter

Broad Street between Logan and New Streets


Joshua Canter arrived in Charleston from Copenhagen by 1788, when he advertised his services as a portrait and landscape painter who would paint “likenesses from life, designs from fancy or copies [from] nature,” and also “teach a few scholars the art of Painting of all its various branches, after academical stile.” Canter, one of at least twelve children, was the son of Jacob Canter, who died in the Virgin Islands in 1785, and Rebecca DeLaMotta Canter (d. 1835), a native of Charleston. His family connections might have brought him to the city, but it was his skills that brought him success. He was one of the original directors of the South Carolina Academy of Fine Arts, and a drawing master in the private school kept by his own former student, Isaac Harby (1788–1828).

Joshua was living on Broad Street by 1801, and before 1820 owned a large house on the south side of the street between Logan and New streets. The three-story wooden house, which burned in the fire of 1861, boasted double piazzas, a “bathing room” in the cellar, and a separate kitchen and carriage house in the extensive garden. The artist lived there with his mother until the mid-1820s, when they moved to New York, where he died in 1826. Two years later, when Isaac Harby died in New York, he was buried near his former art teacher.

John Canter (1782–1823), Joshua’s younger brother, came to Charleston about 1798. He was also an artist and art teacher, and worked as a portrait painter until his death. He was employed as a drawing master at the College of Charleston in the early nineteenth century and, in 1822, exhibited alongside his brother in the gallery of the South Carolina Academy of Fine Arts.

Gravesite of Joshua Canter’s brother John Canter (1782–1823)

Gravesite of Joshua Canter’s brother John Canter (1782–1823)

Coming Street Cemetery.