Feds: Pellan canvases, removed for Queen’s portrait, will find new public home

MONTREAL – The federal government says two paintings, pulled down to make space for a portrait of the Queen, will be placed up somewhere the public can enjoy them.

Heritage Minister James Moore says even more people will be able to see the masterpieces by Alfred Pellan.

The move to pull down the paintings created some surprise or anger – among art-lovers, anti-monarchists, Quebecers and even among federal employees at Foreign Affairs.

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The government says it took down Pellan’s paintings of Canadian scenes, which hung in the Foreign Affairs building, to pay tribute to Canada’s head of state in advance of her 50th anniversary on the throne.

“I know that no slight was intended,” Moore told reporters Friday.

“Mr. Pellan’s painting will be displayed prominently very soon.”

Moore made the remarks in Montreal while announcing that the federal government is spending $23 million to fund 252 arts projects.

While the vast majority of these projects are already underway, several dozen of them – 44 in total – will receive new federal funding. Those new contributions are slated to total $3 million.

Pellan is considered a pivotal figure in bringing modern art to Canada and is revered enough that a federal electoral riding is named after him.

The Parti Quebecois, Quebec’s opposition party, says the recent gesture surrounding Pellan showed a lack of respect for Quebec art.

But Moore scoffed at that suggestion. He said the PQ was just trying to score political points ahead of a Quebec election.

No provincial election is actually required for another two years, and there is no indication one is imminent – but Moore seemed to indicate he believes one might happen in the fall.