Alex Colville, 'painter laureate' of Canada, dies

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2013 2:49 PM

By Peter N Henderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian artist Alex Colville, who won international fame with precise, detailed paintings of everyday scenes, has died at the age of 92, according to a message on his official website.

Colville, who died on Tuesday, developed an iconic style that captured tranquil moments with realistic figures in commonplace settings, such as a cow in a moonlit field, or two swimmers relaxing on a beach.

His work was often compared with that of Norman Rockwell, the American illustrator of the ordinary.

Colville was dubbed the "painter laureate" of Canada and his work was shown in galleries around the world and on covers of magazines such as the New Yorker.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor, in 1982. In 2010, his 1953 work "Man on Verandah" sold for C$1.29 million ($1.24 million), setting a record for a work by a living Canadian artist.

Colville was born in Toronto in 1920, and was an artist in the Canadian military during World War Two. Works from that era include pictures of Canadian troops in the Normandy invasion, and harrowing images after the Allies liberated the German concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen.

"Horse and Train", his most famous composition, was completed in 1954. It shows a dark horse galloping down a train track towards an oncoming locomotive against a grey sky, the perspective drawing the viewer in.

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Colville was also a muralist, engraver, and draughtsman, and would study and prepare for months before starting a painting.

He lived in Nova Scotia, on Canada's East Coast. His wife Rhoda died in December 2012. They are survived by three of their four children.

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

(Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)