Alfred Pellan

Last updated
Alfred Pellan
Cegep de Granby Haute-Yamaska - Immaculee Conception.JPG
Alfred Pelland

(1906-05-16)16 May 1906
Died31 October 1988(1988-10-31) (aged 82)
Nationality Canadian
Education École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts
Known for Painting
Movement Modernism
AwardsPremier prix 1928, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts

Alfred Pellan, CC OQ (born Alfred Pelland; 16 May 1906 31 October 1988) was an important figure in twentieth-century Quebec painting. He was born in Quebec City in 1906. From the age of fourteen until his graduation in 1926 he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Québec. His early canvases, from his first visit to Paris, show a marked fauvist tendency.

Order of Canada order

The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order and the second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is the personal gift of Canada's monarch.

The National Order of Quebec, termed officially in French as l'Ordre national du Québec, and in English abbreviation as the Order of Quebec, is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of Quebec. Instituted in 1984 when Lieutenant Governor Jean-Pierre Côté granted Royal Assent to the Loi sur l'Ordre national du Québec, the order is administered by the Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour current or former Quebec residents for conspicuous achievements in any field, being thus described as the highest honour in Quebec.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.



Alfred Pelland was born in Quebec City on 16 May 1906. His mother, Régina Damphousse, died when he was young, and his father, Alfred Pelland, a locomotive engineer, [1] raised their three children. In school, Pellan filled the margins of his notebooks with drawings and excelled at his art classes, with little interest in other subjects. He later changed his surname to "Pellan". [1]

Quebec City Provincial capital city in Quebec, Canada

Quebec City, officially Québec, is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec. The city had a population estimate of 531,902 in July 2016, and the metropolitan area had a population of 800,296 in July 2016, making it the second largest city in Quebec after Montreal, and the seventh largest metropolitan area and eleventh largest city in the country.

In 1920, Pellan enrolled at the School of Fine Arts of Quebec. He won first prizes in advanced courses and earned medals in painting, drawing, sculpture, sketching, anatomy and advertising. He sold his first painting at the age of 17 to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.[ citation needed ]

National Gallery of Canada Art museum in Ottawa, Ontario

The National Gallery of Canada, located in the capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, is Canada's premier art gallery.

In 1926 Pellan received the first fine arts scholarship in Quebec, which allowed him to spend several years in Paris and visit Venice. He studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1926–1930), where he received a first prize in painting in 1928 (Lucien Simon's studio). When his scholarship ended he prolonged his stay in Paris till 1940 with the help of his father, often working alone while attending the Grande Chaumière, Colarossi and Ranson art academies. He won first prize at the exhibition of mural art in 1935 in Paris and rubbed elbows with the most famous artists of the time. Traveling Europe, he became "permeated by the mainstream art of the era".

École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France

The École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) is a fine arts grand school of PSL Research University in Paris, France.

Académie de la Grande Chaumière An art school in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France

The Académie de la Grande Chaumière is an art school in the Montparnasse district of Paris, France.

Académie Colarossi art school in Paris

The Académie Colarossi was an art school in Paris founded in the 19th century by the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi. First located on the Île de la Cité, it moved in the 1870s to 10 rue de la Grande-Chaumière in the 6th arrondissement. It closed in the 1930s.

Returning to Quebec in 1936 hoping to be appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in his hometown, he was rejected by the jury, who found him too "modern". With the outbreak of war he again returned to Quebec in 1940 and settled in Montreal. Works he brought back with him were praised in exhibitions in Quebec and Montreal but the cubist and surrealist works were considered too avant-garde and most did not find a buyer. From 1943 to 1952 he taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal. His active opposition to the theories of Charles Maillard, the school's director, succeeded in pressuring Maillard to resign in 1944. The school then became more liberal in its approach. Pellan committed himself to an independent art, more open to universality and evolution.

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

During the 1940s, Pellan illustrated poetry books and designed costumes and sets for the theatre. His style matured and developed during this period. Surrealism began to attract him more strongly: his imagery became more erotic and his paintings, always vivid and striking, became larger, more complex and more textured. No longer believing in art schools, in early 1948 he co-signed Prism of Eyes, a manifesto written by Jacques de Tonnancour advocating freedom of expression in art, speaking for a group that called for art free of any ideology.

Surrealism international cultural movement that began in the early 1920s

Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects, and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. Its aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality".

Jacques Godefroy de Tonnancour, was a Canadian artist and art educator from Montreal, Quebec.

Later that year, an even more radical group was formed, which produced the manifesto Refus global first set out by Borduas, which completely overshadowed the earlier manifesto. Pellan received a scholarship in 1952 from the Royal Society of Canada and returned to Paris until 1955, with his wife Madeleine, whom he had married in 1949. During this stay, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris presented an exhibition of 181 of his works, sponsored by the governments of France and Canada. Pellan became the first Canadian to have such a solo exhibition in Paris.[ citation needed ]

Works by Pellan along with those of David Milne, Goodridge Roberts and Emily Carr represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1952. [2]

Back in Quebec for two years, he resumed his painting classes in 1957 as a professor at the Art Centre of Sainte-Adèle while living in his house in Auteuil, Laval, where he took up residence in 1950. His reputation continued to grow among Canadian art experts, he became more widely known through various exhibitions, both solo and group, and he received commissions for murals, which established his fame throughout the country.[ citation needed ]

In 1971, he received an honorary doctorate from Sir George Williams University, which later became Concordia University. [3]


In 1978, Pellan was diagnosed with leukemia and produced only five works during his last ten years with his assistant Michel Vermeulen. He died in Montreal on 31 October 1988, aged 82; he was interred in the Parc du Souvenir in Auteuil. His wife died in 2010.

Recognition and legacy

Several monographs and documentaries were devoted to him during his lifetime. He received a number of awards and honours, notably Companion of the Order of Canada. He was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. [4]

On 21 April 1995 Canada Post issued 'Blossoming, c. 1950, Alfred Pellan' in the Masterpieces of Canadian art series. The stamp was designed by Pierre-Yves Pelletier based on a painting "Blossoming", circa 1950 by Alfred Pellan in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. The 88¢ stamps are perforated 13 X 13.5 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited. [5]

Two of Pellan's paintings, Canada West and Canada East, were commissioned for the Canadian mission in Brazil in the 1940s and relocated to the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa in 1973. [6] From 2011 to 2015 they were removed by the federal government and replaced by a large portrait of the Queen. In November 2015 the two paintings were restored to their original location. [6]

Related Research Articles

Jean-Paul Mousseau was a Quebec artist. He was a student of Paul-Émile Borduas and a member of the Automatist school. He was a founding member of the Association on Non-Figurative Artists of Montreal. He designed murals for the Hydro-Québec building and the Peel Metro in Montreal.

Paul-Émile Borduas Canadian painter

Paul-Émile Borduas was a Québec painter known for his abstract paintings. He was the leader of the avant-garde Automatiste movement and the chief author of the Refus Global manifesto of 1948. Borduas had a profound impact on the development of the arts and of thought, both in the province of Quebec and in Canada.

Jean-Paul Riopelle Canadian painter and sculptor

Jean-Paul Riopelle, was a painter and sculptor from Quebec, Canada. He became the first Canadian painter to attain widespread international recognition.

Guido Molinari, OC was a Canadian artist, known for his abstract paintings.

James Wilson Morrice Canadian artist

James Wilson Morrice was a significant Canadian landscape painter. He studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, France, where he lived for most of his career. James Morrice Street in New Bordeaux, Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Montreal is named in his memory.

Jean Paul Lemieux Quebec painter

Jean Paul Lemieux, was one of the foremost painters of twentieth century Quebec. He was born in Quebec City, where he also died. He was raised in Quebec City until 1916, when his family moved to Berkeley, California. In 1917, the family returned to Quebec and settled in Montreal.

Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté Canadian artist

Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté was a French Canadian painter and sculptor. He was one of the first native-born Canadian artists whose works were directly influenced by the Old World's Impressionism of the 1860s.

Marcel Barbeau Canadian artist

Marcel Barbeau, was a Canadian artist.

William Goodridge Roberts (1904–1974) was a Canadian painter known for his landscape paintings and unassuming still lifes and interiors.

Marc-Aurèle Fortin was a Québécois painter.

Fernand Toupin is a Québécois abstract painter best known as a member of the avant-garde movement Les Plasticiens. His work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Alfred Laliberté Canadian artist

Alfred Laliberté was a French Canadian sculptor and painter based in Montreal. His output includes more than 900 sculptures in bronze, marble, wood, and plaster. Many of his sculptures depict national figures and events in Canada and France such as Louis Hébert, François-Xavier-Antoine Labelle, Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, and the Lower Canada Rebellion. Although he produced hundreds of paintings as well, he is chiefly remembered for his work as a sculptor.

Denis Juneau was a Canadian painter and a leading figure in the Canadian plasticien movement.

Albert Dumouchel was a Canadian artist, photographer and printmaker.

Henri Beau Canadian painter

Henri Beau was a French-Canadian Impressionist painter. He is noted for Chemin en été, La dispersion des Acadiens, L'arrivée de Champlain à Québec, and Les Noces de Cana. He studied under French Masters Joseph Chabert, Léon Bonnat, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. He had initial success as an Impressionist painter, amongst other Canadian Impressionists in Paris, and was awarded the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government.

Jeanne Leblanc Rhéaume was a Canadian artist.

Suzanne Rivard-Lemoyne

Suzanne Rivard-Lemoyne was an artist born in Quebec City, Quebec who later moved to Ottawa, Ontario and is known for her significant contribution to arts administration. She was responsible for developing Art Bank, the Canada Council's art collection program in 1972. Rivard-Lemoyne became a Visual Arts Officer for the Canada Council in 1970 and started the art collection and leasing system for government offices, offering regional artists support and those interested in collecting access to local art. She played a major role in supporting and developing the local community of artist-run centres and contemporary art galleries. Rivard-Lemoyne won the 2003 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution in arts support.

Lise Gervais

Lise Gervais was a Canadian abstract painter and sculptor. She was president of the Conseil des Artistes Peintres du Quebec in 1983 and 1984.

Alice Nolin was a Canadian artist and educator.


  1. 1 2 Paul Gladu (October 1993). "Pellan, Alfred". L'Agora. L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  2. "Past Canadian Exhibitions". National Gallery of Canada at the Venice Biennale. National Gallery of Canada. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  3. "Honorary Degree Citation - Alfred Pellan* | Concordia University Archives". Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  4. "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  5. Canada Post stamp [ permanent dead link ],; accessed 22 June 2015.
  6. 1 2