Robert Harris, artist (b at Vale of Conway, Wales 18 Sept 1849; d at Montréal 27 Feb 1919). Robert Harris is best known for his painting The Fathers of Confederation
, which was burned in the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in 1916. Robert Harris immigrated to PEI with his family in 1856, including his brother William Critchlow HARRIS
. He studied in Boston, Paris and Rome and travelled extensively in Europe, Canada and the US. He did illustrations for publications in Boston, Halifax, Montréal and Toronto, and was commissioned by George Brown of the Globe
in 1880 to go to Lucan to sketch the prisoners accused of murdering the DONNELLYS
. A distinguished portrait painter, Harris portrayed over 200 of the leading personalities of the day, including Sir John A. MACDONALD
, George Monro GRANT
and Lord ABERDEEN
. Robert Harris lived much of his life in Montréal teaching at the Art Association there. He was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880 and of the Pen and Pencil Club in 1890. Elected president of the RCA in 1893, he worked for 13 years to promote young Canadian artists by having them represented at all major international exhibitions of the period. Two of his most popular paintings, A Meeting of the School Trustees
, are in the National Gallery of Canada. In 1928 his widow built the Robert Harris Memorial Gallery and Library in Charlottetown, PEI. This building was replaced in 1964 by the Confederation Centre and its gallery houses an extensive collection of Harris's works.
Meeting of the School Trustees
Oil on canvas, 1885, by Robert Harris (courtesy National Gallery of Canada/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa).
Meeting of the Delegates
At the Quebec Conference of 1864. Charcoal and red chalk on wove paper, 1883, by Robert Harris (courtesy National Gallery of Canada/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa).
School At Canoe Cove, P.E.I.
Painting by Robert Harris, oil on canvas. This scene illustrates a Prince Edward Island one-room schoolhouse in the early 1900s, where children of various ages sat together and were instructed by one teacher (courtesy Confederation Centre Art Gallery/CAGH-72).
Moncrieff Williamson,Robert Harris(1971).
Links to Other Sites
Watch the Heritage Minute that honours Kate Henderson and the many other rural teachers of Canada's past. From the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.