Alfred Pellan R.C.A.

Don Quixote, c. 1938

oil on canvas
9.75x12 in.

Canadian Fine Arts Gallery, Toronto;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary;
Private collection, Calgary

Alfred Pellan moved from Quebec to Paris in 1926 after receiving one of the first Fine Art scholarships awarded in Quebec. Only twenty years old, the young Pellan dove headfirst into the exciting Parisian art world. He took classes at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, sat in on lectures at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and Colarossi and immersed himself fully in
the city. His community grew, and he would rub shoulders with great artists like Picasso, Miro and André Breton, whose influence to his work was notable. In Paris, he would find a creative freedom he had desperately searched for.

By 1938, where we see Pellan paint Don Quixote, the artist was exhibiting widely throughout Europe. His work had begun to take influence from Parisian art movements like fauvism, surrealism and cubism as he developed his own unique painting style. While this new style was dubbed too modern in his home province of Quebec, in France, his work was celebrated. With contrasts of bright colours, morphing into abstracted figures and objects against dark backgrounds, Pellan’s compositions from this period and into the remainder of his career are lively and vibrant.

The character of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ mad knight-errant who wanders in a continuous quest to prove his chivalry, has inspired generations of artists. Here, Pellan has offered us his own interpretation of the epic novel in a style that is uniquely his own.

Alfred Pellan was born in Québec City, Canada, on May 16, 1906 ; he died in Montreal, on October 31, 1988. For more than forty years he had been one of the best known and best loved Canadian artist. He studied at the Québec City School of Fine Arts from…