painter, was born in Amsterdam, where he studied art. In 1880 he became a naturalised Belgian citizen. He came to Melbourne c.1885 – at about the same time as the Italian Nerli and the Portugese Loureiro – and was listed as 'J. Carabain’, artist, of 95 Collins Street, Melbourne, in Sands 1886-88, 1895-97 and Sands & McDougall (Melbourne) 1888. Table Talk (21 December 1888, p.3) commented: 'The number of foreign artists who are settling in Melbourne is steadily increasing, and their residence here cannot fail to make an impression on the art history of the colony’. Clarke (Sotheby’s 2002) also notes that he had travelled widely in Europe and now did so in Australia and NZ before returning to Brussels by 1889 [sic].
Carabain’s painting of Melbourne Town Hall 1889 is in the SLV (LT). Collins Street at Melbourne and King Street, Sydney 1889, two very photographic oils on canvas, were auctioned at Christie’s part 1, 26 November 1996, lots.144, 145 (ill.). George Street, Sydney 1889, oil on canvas, is in the NLA (R8). All his works are exceptionally detailed and photographic. Clearly all could have been painted from photographs, but Carabain seems to have returned to Victoria. The exhibitors listed at the 1892 VAS included 'J. Carabain, 194 Gore Street, Fitzroy’ though no exhibits were listed under that name in the catalogue. Instead, no.36 'View of Capri’ and no.73 'Falconer in Algeria’ were said to be by 'T. E.’ Carabain. Included in the Ladies Court at the 1888-89 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition was no.184 Portrait of R.H.J. Millett. Carabain’s View of Verona, Italy , lent by the artist, was in the Victorian Loan Collection, cat. 9 ( see card). Jean (sic) Carabain, an artist of 117 Collins Street, Melbourne, was listed in Sands & McDougall’s directory for 1896. Early King William Street, Adelaide (inscribed 'The Main Road Adelaide, Western [sic] Australia’), dated 1907, oil on canvas, was lot 31 at Sotheby’s Fine Australian and International Paintings auction, Melbourne 30 April 2002 (est. $70,000-$120,000). The painting is precisely the same in style as the earlier works; Clarke suggests it was painted from a photograph taken between 1872 and the early 1880s, though the costumes look later, and that it was probably the painting sold at auction in Antwerp, May 1968 as 'View of Adelaide’, then onsold Christie’s London, March 1969. The 2002 seller was a 'Corporate Collection, Australia’.