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Stolen Norval Morrisseau paintings returned to Confederation College after 40 years

Paintings will be added to Thunder Bay Art Gallery's permanent collection.

THUNDER BAY – It took over four decades, but two Norval Morrisseau paintings stolen from Confederation College have been returned to the school.

The recovery means the works will be on public display at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in the near future.

A Toronto-based art curator who is an expert in the work of the famed artist contacted the college after recognizing the paintings when they were offered to her for sale by an art colleague in Quebec, the school said Thursday.

The two paintings, titled Demi-God Figure 1 and Demi-God Figure 2, were stolen from the college in 1981.

“This is a fantastic resolution to a long-standing mystery,” said college president Kathleen Lynch. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to see these culturally and historically important paintings returned to the College so they can be viewed and enjoyed by visitors to and citizens of northwestern Ontario.”

Morrisseau, an originator of the Woodland style of art, is believed to have painted the two works, measuring 150 x 100 centimetres each, in 1970 and 1971, using acrylic on Kraft paper.

The works will find a permanent home at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, where they will be displayed and accessible to the public.

Gallery director Sharon Godwin called that a coup for the public and the art world.

“Norval Morrisseau’s body of work is extraordinarily meaningful within the history of art in this country and is particularly special to the people of this region,” she said. “The Thunder Bay Art Gallery is honoured to accept and provide a home for these two works, which are fascinating on their own, but made even more so by the story of their past.” 

The paintings will be officially unveiled when it is possible to hold in-person events, the college said.

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