William Sawyer (1820-1889) was a noted portrait artist and later photographer of considerable skill, who was based in Montreal and Kingston. Sawyer traveled throughout Eastern Ontario to secure commissions and spent a significant time painting in Belleville. He was a portraitist of distinguished subjects such as Sir John A. Macdonald and Senator Henry Corby.
Glanmore National Historic Site’s collection consists of 10 portraits, primarily of local and regional politicians. The portraits are signed and dated between 1855 and 1886.
He painted the portrait of George Benjamin (pictured right), in 1859. Benjamin was the first Jewish elected official in Canada, the first Jewish Member of Parliament. Benjamin was also a contemporary and friend of Sir John A. Macdonald.