Canadian (born in Poland), 1833–1914
Irish Emigrant, c. 1870
oil on canvas
57 x 44.6 cm
Permanent loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery from the City of Winnipeg, A.A. Heaps Collection
William Raphael studied academic art in Berlin. He laboured under several portrait and genre painters, and his work rarely detoured from academicism toward the more radical romantic tendencies that captivated German landscape painters at the time. Nonetheless, portraits such as Irish Emigrant, which Raphael executed after relocating to Montreal in 1857, reveal a certain loose and casual air that is not fully in line with the academic model. Raphael is perhaps best known for representing his fellow immigrant community. Raphael painted a wide range of people engaged in everyday activities, and his scenes are distinct in being generally more keenly observational than many of those produced by his peers. He was also employed briefly by the famous Notman photography studio, and went on to distinguish himself as one of the country’s important early art instructors.