William Eagar

. . . At the time of publication in 1839, Halifax newspaper commentator J.S. Thompson said: “Mr. Eagar’s first number of ‘Illustrations of Nova Scotia…’ has appeared. Its reception has given much pleasure both for the beauty of the drawings, and the degree of success which has attended Mr. Eagar’s persevering efforts to get his work well-lithographed….We hail Mr. Eagar’s work, for its own sake, and the artist’s; – and also, because it tends to demonstrate how much beauty and interest lie within easy walk of Halifax, – it will help also to increase taste in this delightful department of intellectual effort, and to make the province better known, and more respected.”

Eagar undertook the portfolio for two important reasons – to establish that Nova Scotia was capable of producing sophisticated, top-quality art; and to promote the province at home and abroad as having a proud, confident and self-reliant vision of its place in the world.

Eagar was from Ireland and may have received his arts education there.  He arrived at St. John’s Newfoundland between 1815 and 1820, where he lived until 1834 when he came to Halifax.  During his life he was also an art teacher, and opened a Drawing Academy in Halifax.   His students were mainly children of fashionable families who felt that learning the fundamentals of art was essential to a complete education.  He is also credited with being among the first artists to introduce lithography to Nova Scotia.