1908 MAY 06
Robert Harris, born in North Wales and raised in Charlottetown, became the best-known Canadian portraitist of his day. Employed as a surveyor and later a clerk, Harris was an amateur artist when commissioned to paint portraits of the speakers of the P.E.I. House of Assembly in 1871. In 1872, Harris began studies at the Lowell Academy in Boston and in 1877 traveled to London where he enrolled at the Slade School under the direction of Alphonse Legros. He subsequently entered the studio of Léon Bonnat in Paris. Upon his return to Canada, Harris established his reputation, becoming Vice-President of the Ontario Society of Artists, President of the Royal Canadian Academy and painting the portraits of some of the country's most prominent citizens. His most significant commission was The Fathers of Confederation painted for the Canadian parliament buildings but destroyed by fire in 1916. Harris produced a number of self-portraits at various stages throughout his life. Self-Portrait of 1908 is a late work, painted when he had reached the height of his success. In it, he experiments with Impressionist techniques.