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Raphael, William


RAPHAEL, WILLIAM (1833–1914), artist and teacher. Raphael is Canada's first known professional Jewish artist. He was born into a religious home in East Prussia and studied at the Royal Academy of Berlin and emigrated first to New York and then to Montreal in 1857. Here he produced mainly genre scenes, landscapes, and portraits in the Biedermeier realist tradition. His earliest livelihood derived from portrait commissions in Montreal, Quebec City, and Trois Rivières and from photography-based art for William Notman. In Jewish public spaces, portraits remain of Dr. Aaron David Hart, ophthalmologist, and Dr. Abraham David *de Sola, rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Raphael loved the Canadian landscape and its indigenous peoples and habitants, both of which became part of his lively genre scenes and site-specific landscapes. He created artistically rendered drawings in Behind Bonsecours Market, Montreal, 1866, (where he includes himself as the immigrant artist clutching his portfolio and family menorah), Habitants Attacked by Wolves, 1870 (made into the first Canadian chromolithograph for distribution by the Art Association), and his Murray Bay Indian Encampment scenes. Raphael painted religious subjects for Catholic institutions and taught in those institutions as well. Canadian artist Wyatt Eaton received his first art lessons with him before 1867. Raphael also taught at Montreal High School; the Art Association of Montreal (the first teacher of "Figure Painting and Drawing" there, 1881); the Sisters of St. Anne Convent (where he trained nuns to teach art); and the Villa Maria Convent and society pupils at Raphael's private art school from 1885. One of his nine children, Samuel, became an artist in New York. Raphael was a charter member of the Royal Canadian Academy and the Society of Canadian Artists. He was a member of the Art Association of Montreal; the Ontario Society of Artists; the Pen and Pencil Club of Montreal; and the Council of Arts and Manufacturers of Quebec. Raphael was also a founder of the National Gallery of Canada and of Montreal's first Reform temple, Temple Emanuel.


S.R. Goelman, William Raphael (1833–1914) (1996).

[Sharon Goelman (2nd ed.)]

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