Object Title
Portrait of Abraham Shaw
Object Name
John Wyecliffe Lowes Forster
Date Made
Oil on Canvas --Wood
Eminent Figure
Abraham Shaw
Catalogue Number

H 170.18 cm x W 138.43 cm x D 12.7 cm


A 3/4 length portrait of Abraham Shaw standing facing forward, with his head turned slightly to his left, gazing past the viewer's right shoulder. He is standing in front of a plain background of mottled green, gold, red and brown, with the suggestion of a table in the lower right corner. The figure is wearing a long dark topcoat, a white shirt with a tall stand-up collar, and a red-and-grey tie with a gold stock pin. The subject has grey-white hair, a long-ish white moustache, and clear blue eyes. He is wearing a double chain of office with a round pendant medallion on the bottom of the outer chain, a cross-shaped medallion hanging from a teardrop shaped medallion at the bottom of the inner chain, and several ovoid and cross-shaped medallions forming the links of both chains. The painting is signed "JWL Forster" in brown/gold paint in the lower left corner.

The painting is housed in an early 20th century gilt wood and plaster frame. Plain back edge; egg-and-dart outer edge and deep, wide scotia; escalloped corners with small plain cabochon at centre and foliate extensions on top edge with simple foliate centres on swept rail; wide shallow scotia; lambs tongue; plain double bead course and bevels to sight edge.


Born and educated in Kingston, Abraham Shaw studied at military school and served in the 1870 Fenian raid when he was promoted to captain. He was first employed as a moulder and later entered the public service working for the Customs Department in Kingston for 46 years. Active in civic life, Shaw was a member of many organizations, an alderman, and for many years chairman of the Board of Education. A man of strong opinions, Abraham Shaw believed in a ‘Canada for Canadians,’ and in advanced temperance legislation.