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Often when I write a post on this blog, I will listen to music from the Internet Radio usually from a European Station, in Germany MDR or Switzerland or the Dutch NRK, sometimes from WETA, WCRI or Classical Wyoming in the US.

Recently I was listening to Roman Carnaval Ouverture by Berlioz, Mahler 6 Symphony, Variation on a French Mountain Air by Vincent D’Indy, Handel’s Sarabande and gigue or Glazunov Waltz no.2 or Dvorak Symphonic variations, among other things playing.

A bit eclectic but a nice mix to inspire.

Recently MAGAZINE the internet publication of the National Gallery of Canada had an article on a famous painting by Robert Harris that I presented to visitors at the NGC many times. It has been restored recently by Curator Tasia Bulger for the first time in 88 years. A Meeting of the School Trustees, painted in 1885. A scene in a typical one room school house which was a feature in rural PEI for many years until 40 years ago. Robert Harris often used his wife Elizabeth Putnam as a model in his paintings as is the case here. Another relative, his uncle Joseph Stretch of Long Creek PEI is the man sitting with his fist on the table looking stern. The teacher, a woman, in a conservative rural environment at the end of the 19th century is seen as the educated outsider, trying to convince the farmers/trustees of the need for their support for education. The conflict in this scene though it was some 132 years ago, could have happened just last week, again the school question was discussed on the Island very publicly and the old conflict between rural and urban area surfaced.

For a full description click on the link below;

http://www.ngcmagazine.ca/features/in-the-spotlight-conserving-a-meeting-of-the-school-trustees-by-robert-harris#Comments

1-after-treatment.jpg

This is what the painting looks like now, with the old yellow varnish removed. 

Born in Wales in 1849, Robert Harris’ family moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 1856, where he was raised. He studied painting in Boston, London, and Paris, and spent most of his adult life working as a portrait artist in Montreal. Following the successful reception of his large-scale group portrait, The Fathers of Confederation (1883), which was destroyed in 1917 in the fire of the Parliament building in Ottawa, Harris became interested in creating a painting for the newly founded National Gallery of Canada, which had just begun purchasing works of art for its collection.

It was suggested by the late Director of the Art Gallery of the Confederation Centre, Moncrieff Williamson in his book, Island Painter: The Life of Robert Harris (1849–1919), that the subject matter was based on an actual conversation in August 1885 between Harris and Long Creek schoolteacher, Kate Henderson, during a visit by Harris to his family in PEI.

The name “Kate Henderson” is written on a booklet on the desk, along with “Pine Creek School” — a fictional school based on the one-room schoolhouse in Long Creek, PEI. However, a deeper look into PEI’s Annual Public School and Education Reports and census data from the 1880s reveals that no women taught in Long Creek at that time, and the sole Catherine Henderson teaching in PEI was only recorded as active between 1876 and 1883, in Alma, Crapaud, Little York, and Poplar Grove.

Remarkably, this Catherine Henderson was born in Lot 31, a portion of which is now North Wiltshire, PEI . In terms of subject choice and the structured, academic treatment, the painting was in part painted to catch the eye of the recently founded National Gallery of Canada.

 

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