Canadian War Museum mourns the passing of Alex Colville

July 19, 2013

Ottawa, Ontario, July 17, 2013 — The Canadian War Museum joins all Canadians in mourning the passing of Alex Colville, one of the country’s most accomplished and celebrated artists.  Mr. Colville’s exceptional work as an official war artist during the Second World War is especially prized at the War Museum, where it continues to enhance public understanding of human conflict in general and Canada’s wartime experience in particular. The Museum is currently planning a special exhibition of his works to honour his memory. 

 The Museum’s Beaverbrook War Art collection includes over 340 of Mr. Colville’s oil paintings, watercolours and sketches from that era. The holdings include iconic works such as Infantry, near Nijmegen, currently on loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery; and Bodies in a Grave, Belsen, which Mr. Colville painted after visiting the Nazi concentration camp soon after its liberation in 1945. 

“Alex Colville’s genius as a war artist stemmed from his ability to capture the human dimension of armed conflict through his creative interpretation of what he saw and experienced,” said Laura Brandon, an art historian and Acting Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum. “His work will forevermore enhance our understanding of war in general, and the service and sacrifice of Canadians who served overseas during Second World War.”

 Mr. Colville’s work was featured prominently in the 2005 War Museum exhibition Art and War – Australia, Britain, and Canada in the Second World War, an international production marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In 2000, he was well represented in the travelling exhibition Canvas of War, Masterpieces from the Canadian War Museum. That year, the War Museum also displayed a selection of his paintings in Colville at War: Watercolours, 1944-1945.

 Alex Colville enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in 1942. In 1944 he was appointed an official war artist and painted in England, France, Holland and Germany. The bleak existentialist view of the world reflected in his later paintings has been attributed to his wartime experience.

 The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.


 Media contacts:

Yasmine Mingay
Manager, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607