Art critic Valère Bertrand spent about ten days in Ottawa to produce an analysis of La France Heureuse, the gigantic mural fresco painted by Alfred Courmes (1898-1989) between 1938 and 1939
that covers the walls of the dining room of the French Embassy in Ottawa.
Since its creation, this monumental work has attracted much attention in the corridors and offices of the French administration, but also in the diplomatic receptions that have succeeded one another over the years at the Residence de France. Paradoxically, few are the experts who have looked into
it. Located here in Ottawa, well-hidden in the heart of the Embassy this work remains largely unknown. This lack of knowledge was first conscientiously sought, since the fresco remained covered
between the early 1950s and 1983. It was then restored by Jean-Paul Ledeur, but since that moment, it has not received any sharp attention. Often contemplated but rarely questioned, it has become a simple but original decoration. However, it is much more than that. It is a masterpiece in many ways.
It was therefore becoming urgent to fill the analytical gap that remained on this subject. The Cultural and Scientific Service of the French Embassy has decided to invite a specialist in art history to carry out a reading, the first concerning this work, whose complexity equals to Courmes’ ambition. The art critic and former collaborator of France Culture, Mr. Valère Bertrand, who had the opportunity to meet and talk with the painter twice during his career as a radio columnist, has begun to put this work in its historical context and to lead an aesthetic analysis.
He gives us the first insights in this video.