ROBERT HARRIS, O.S.A., P.R.C.A.
PORTRAIT OF ROBERT HAMILTON
oil on canvas
30 ins x 24 ins; 67.3 cms x 52.1 cms
Robert Harris (1849-1919), a founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy (1880) and its president (1893), was the most highly respected portrait painter in Canada from the 1880s to the 1910s. After travelling abroad to study and develop his art, Harris settled in Montreal. From early in his career, he had aspired to become a portrait painter, and by the time of his death, he had painted more than 200 portraits of the major political, business and social figures of his day. He was best known for his large work, Meeting of the Delegates of British North America to Settle Terms of Confederation, Quebec, October 1864 which he completed in 1883. It was lost in the fire that destroyed the Parliament Buildings in 1916.
This portrait of Robert Hamilton dates to the 1890s. Hamilton (1822-1898), eldest son of timber baron George Hamilton, carried on the successful business along with his two brothers after the death of their father. Residing in New Liverpool, Lévis, Quebec, he was also a large shareholder in the Bank of Montreal and a trustee of Bishop’s College University (now Bishop’s University) from 1871 to 1898. Characteristic of Harris’s portraits of distinguished male sitters, the dark-suited figure emerges out of the background, with emphasis on the skillfully-painted head. Gold-framed spectacles and a watch fob and chain stand out against Hamilton’s waistcoat.
Private Collection, Toronto