William Sawyer

William SawyerPinterest
Thomas Molson by William Sawyer, circa 1863. Source: Library and Archives Canada. Molson Portrait Collection, Molson Archives, Montreal, Quebec.

William Sawyer was a Canadian-born, self-taught painter and, later in his life, a photographer. Exhibited sporadically throughout Canada's West, his portraits are widely held to be competent but not exceptional. Subjects of his portraits include mayors, university principals and senate speakers as well as ordinary people. Perhaps his most famous portrait is the bishop’s-sized portrait of John A. Macdonald painted in 1863 -- four years before Macdonald was knighted and became the first prime minister of the Dominion of Canada. Earlier Sawyer portraits tend to include more vibrant colours in the backgrounds and figures portrayed with somewhat more emotionality.