Canadian (born in Wales), 1849–1919
Portrait of a Little Girl, c. 1885
oil on canvas
45.7 x 38.1 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds donated in celebration of the 75th Anniversary founding of the Winnipeg Art Gallery by Alice MacDougall Rait, in memory of her husband, William McGillivray Rait, a founder of the Gallery
Robert Harris was one of the most sought-after portraitists in Canada in the final decades of the nineteenth century. His fame was largely a result of his famous painting The Fathers of Confederation, commissioned for the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. A founding member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1880, he was a great proponent of the development of art in Canada. Nonetheless, as a teacher he encouraged his students to follow his footsteps and to seek training in European academies. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, countless young Canadian artists flocked to Paris especially, considered then the art capital of the world; consequently, the French academic style prevailed in Canada for decades.