Lot #93

Léon Bellefleur
Abstract Composition

oil on paper, mounted to card
signed, inscribed “Nos meilleurs voeux pour 1950 à nos meilleurs et à nos plus grands amis, Leon & Rita” and dated 1950 in the side margins
4.25 x 6.25 ins ( 10.8 x 15.9 cms )

Estimated: $7,000.00$5,000.00 - $7,000.00

Private Collection, Quebec
Sale Date: November 19th 2019

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Léon Bellefleur
(1910 - 2007) RCA

Léon Bellefleur was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1910. By the age of ten he was painting landscapes and still lifes on cardboard cut from grocery store cartons. He knew he had a passion for art and wanted to be a painter from the age of twelve, but was advised against this vocation by well-meaning family and friends concerned for his financial welfare. After completing secondary education, Bellefleur obtained his teaching certificate from the Jacques Cartier Normal School in Montreal (1929). His choice of profession enabled him to earn a steady income while pursuing his passion during school holidays. Bellefleur taught in schools of the French Catholic School Commission system for the following twenty-five years (1929–1954) while attending evening classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal (1929–1936).

In 1942, Bellefleur met Alfred Pellan. At Pellan's studio, he was introduced to Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancour, Jeanne Rhéaume and Goodridge Roberts. Most of these artists were members of the Contemporary Art Society, which Bellefleur joined in 1943. He had his first solo show in 1946. In 1948 he signed the manifesto of ‘Prisme d’Yeux’, drafted by Jacques de Tonnancour and representing the interests of a group of artists from the Contemporary Art Society. Bellefleur was also interested in Paul-Émile Borduas’ group–the ‘Automatistes’. Both groups were influenced by the Surrealist movement. Bellefleur was especially interested in the art of Paul Klee and children’s art. Although the Prisme d’Yeux was shortlived, Bellefleur exhibited with them at the two exhibitions they held.

In 1950, Bellefleur held his second solo show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The following year, he won the Jessie Dow prize in Modern Painting at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Spring Exhibition. In the same year, he was chosen to participate in the ‘Jeunes Peintres Canadiens’ Exhibit in Europe and at the ‘Biennale of Sao Paulo’ in Brazil. In 1954 Bellefleur retired from teaching. He travelled to France where he settled for the next twelve years, regularly visiting Canada. He was awarded a Scholarship from the Canada Council for the Arts in 1959. In 1960 he represented Canada at the Guggenheim Museum in New York with fellow artists Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Edmund Alleyn and Harold Town. In 1965 Bellefleur returned to Canada and settled in Quebec.

In 1968 he received a second Scholarship from the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Gallery of Canada organized a retrospective show of his work. In 1977, Bellefleur received the first ever Paul-Émile Borduas Prize. This distinction enhanced his reputation as an important Canadian Artist. In 1987, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Concordia University in Montreal.