Work & Bio

Paul Vanier Beaulieu

Born in 1910
 / Died in 1996

View biography... View selected works...

Born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Joseph-Alphonse Beaulieu and Augustine Vanier, the eldest of seven children (2 girls and 5 boys). His father was a barrister who enjoyed painting as a hobby. Paul studied a total of four years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Mtl., at two different times 1927-30 and 1936-37. His friends at the Beaux-Arts were Jean-Paul Lemieux and Stanley Cosgrove. Finally he left art school after a skiing accident. Next he opened a workshop for commercial art with Gonsalve Desaulniers who left the venture after a year. In spite of the economic situation of the 30’s Paul supported himself for six years. A chance meeting with a café owner led him to become a waiter in the café where he was allowed to show his paintings. When he saved enough money to travel he made his way to Paris in 1938 and joined his brother Claude who had been there since 1935. He then pur­chased a studio in the Montparnasse section of the city. He took further studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1938). He continued to work in his Paris studio until the Nazi invasion in 1940. As a citizen of a country at war with Germany, he was interned at St-Denis, France, from 1940 to 1944 along with his brother Claude, Canadian artist Jean Dallaire, and 160 other Canadian citizens. He continued to paint during his internment. Two of the works were a portrait of a woman Marika and a study of Christ in the style of French artist Georges Rouault. After the war he went back to his old Paris studio and continued to work there until his return to Canada in 1973. His favoured mediums were etching (drypoint, aquatint), water colours and oils. He began working with graphics in 1951. Just a year later his aquatint etching of a woman was included in Paul Duval’s book, Canadian Drawings and Prints (1952) where Duval cites his “crisp portrait impressions”. During this period he did a series of very sensual nudes, abstract still lifes and con­tinued to excel in his water colours and etchings. His series of roosters became popular with collectors. Another of his aquatint etchings Les Oiseleurs – The Bird Tamers was selected by the Howard Smith Paper Mills for an ad in Canadian Art (Aug. 1961). In this work Beaulieu creates effec­tive light and dark shading on the faces of the tamers and their clothing – adding charm with fine lines to define birds’ feathers, tamer’s scarf and wood grain of a long table in the foreground. The human figures in this work suggest the influence of French artist Bernard Buffet. In his painting he has had many diverse styles. His 1970’s landscapes, traditional in subject mat­ter, have irregular patches throughout the foreground that give greater depth to the overall composition. In others of his paintings he verges on the non-objective. His still lifes show some influence of Picasso. Now in his 80’s he spends less time at his easel and finds more time for the enjoyment in living. Over the years he has exhibited his work in New York City, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and in Canada has held solo shows at Galerie l’Apogée, Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts (1968); in Montreal at the Waldorf Galleries (1954), Dominion Gallery (1957) (1959), Galerie Libre (1970); in Ottawa a retrospective at Galerie d’Art Vincent (1983) and others. His awards include: Prize for painting, Que. Prov. Exhibit. (1951); CC Grant (1960). He illustrated J.L. Vallas book of poems O Visages with 30 etchings. He is represented in the following collections: NGC, Ott.; Mus. Qué, Q. City; MMFA, Mtl.; Mus. Mod. Art, Paris; Bezalel Mus., Jerusalem and elsewhere and many private collections in Canada and France.

Colin S. MacDonald
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada