Robert Harris

   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 and Harmony, 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.