ArtsAlive.ca – The Secret Life of Costumes
Solange Legendre

Solange Legendre

Solange Legendre was born in Montreal on December 30, 1929. She took drawing and painting lessons as a young girl, and from 1947 to 1952 she studied at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, notably with the painter Stanley Cosgrove. During this period she participated in the École des beaux-arts’ annual exhibitions, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Spring Salon, and the 35th annual exhibition of the Society of Canadian Painters, Etchers and Engravers (held at the Royal Ontario Museum in 1951).

From 1952 to 1955 she studied in Paris at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, in the studios of Édouard Goerg (etching), Georges Goetz (painting), and Maurice Jaudon (lithography). She also attended the Académie Ranson and the École nationale des arts décoratifs, where she studied set and costume design under Denis Malclès and Félix Labisse. In 1954 she received a travel and study grant from the Quebec government. During her sojourn in Paris she exhibited every year at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, and broadened her knowledge through frequent museum visits and travel to other European countries.

Shortly after her return to Canada in August 1955, Montreal’s Théâtre du Nouveau Monde invited her to create the costumes for Chekhov’s La Mouette (The Seagull), Paul Claudel’s L’Échange, Alexandre Rivemale’s Némo, and Kafka’s The Trial.

In 1956 she joined the Radio-Canada costume department. She received the 1959 award for Best Costumes for her designs for Arthur Honegger’s Le Roi David, and the 1981 Prix Anik for Le Grillon du foyer, based on Charles Dickens’ The Cricket on the Hearth.

Over the course of her career Solange Legendre worked with a score of theatre companies. Also a gifted teacher, she taught at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique, the National Theatre School, and the Université du Québec à Montréal (Theatre Studies department).

In 1984 she suffered a stroke that abruptly curtailed her activities. She died in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec on May 18, 2004, at the age of 74.

Solange Legendre’s collected papers are held at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.