Robert Harris (painter)
|Died||February 27, 1919 (aged 69)|
Born in Caerhun, Conwy, Wales, he came to Prince Edward Island via Liverpool with his family as a youth. In 1873, he studied art in Boston, in 1877 attended London's Slade School of Art, and later that same year, studied in Paris with Léon Bonnat.
In 1880, he was commissioned to sketch the principal parties in the Donnelley's murder trial for the Toronto Globe. He returned to study in Paris with Bonnat again in 1881. In 1882, he shared a studio with American painter A. B. Reinhardt at Ecouen, 17 miles from Paris. In 1883, he exhibited in the Paris Salon. While abroad, he may have learned of Impressionism, but on his return to Canada, in 1883, he was commissioned by the Dominion Government to paint a record of the 1864 Quebec Conference. The painting was later known by the popular title The Fathers of Confederation. Afterwards, he settled in Montreal, and began painting in an academic style the social and political elite in Toronto and Montreal.
In 1886, his painting of A Meeting of the School Trustees, of a woman teacher converting a gathering of male trustees to her point of view, was the sensation of the 1886 Royal Canadian Academy show. The Fathers of Confederation, early in his career, established his reputation as one of the most distinguished portrait painters in Canada. Between 1889 and 1896, he painted over 55 commissioned portraits superior to other portraits being done at the time.
As president of the RCA in 1904, he helped spearhead the organization and installation of the Canadian exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. At the exposition, he received the Gold Medal of Honor for distinguished service in art.
In the late 1900s, Harris returned to painting in an Impressionist-influenced mode after purchasing the first book in English on the subject, The French Impressionists (1860–1900) by Camille Mauclair. (His copy of the book is in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery). Over the next eight years, he began to incorporate small touches of vibrant colour and the fluid brushwork of the Impressionists, while still maintaining the formal characteristics of academic portraiture.
An important collection of his works is housed at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, P.E.I.. His painting, A Meeting of the School Trustees, illustrating a confrontation between PEI teacher Kate Henderson and her school's trustees, appeared on a Canadian stamp in 1980 and was dramatized by a Heritage Minutes.
He married Elizabeth (Bessie) Putnam in 1885 but the couple had no children. He was the brother of the architect William Critchlow Harris and took an active interest in the artwork of his cousin Kathleen Morris.
In 1986-1987, the exhibition Robert Harris, 1849-1919, was circulated in Wales by the National Museum of Wales. The first language of the catalogue was Welsh, the second English.
Conference at Québec in 1864, to settle the basics of a union of the British North American Provinces, also known as The Fathers of Confederation. The original painting was destroyed when the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings was consumed by fire in 1916.
A Meeting of the School Trustees 1885, National Gallery of Canada
- Williamson 1967, p. n.p..
- Prakash 2015, pp. 643-647.
- Records of the Founding of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. Toronto: Globe Printing Co. 1879–80. p. 16.
- Williamson, Moncrieff. "Robert Harris, 1849-1919: An Unconventional Biography". books.google.ca. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
- Mauclair, Camille (1903). The French Impressionists (1860–1900). Duckworth.
- Prakash 2015, p. 643.
- Barbara Meadowcroft, Painting Friends: The Beaver Hall Women Painters, 1999
- Prakash, A.K. (2015). Impressionism in Canada: A Journey of Rediscovery. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. pp. 398–417. ISBN 978-3-89790-427-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Williamson, Moncrieff (1967). Robert Harris 1849-1919. Charlottetown: Confederation Art Gallery. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Moncrieff Williamson, Robert Harris: An Unconventional Biography, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1973.
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|Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article about "Robert Harris".|
- Robert Harris – Confederation Painter
- Pictures in the National Gallery of Canada
- Article by Moncrieff Williamson
Otto Reinhold Jacobi
| President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
George Agnew Reid