Biography of Sylvia LEFKOVITZ

Sylvia Lefkovitz, self-portrait, detail



Sylvia Lefkowitz attended primary and secondary school in her native city of Montreal. She studied at l’École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Columbia University of New York and the Académie Julien in Paris.  In 1955 a Canada Council Fellowship allowed her to work and study in Mexico.  Further studies continued in Spain and Italy.

In 1956 Sylvia painted the Louis Riel murals which were acquired by the Department of Northern Affairs in 1958 and are now on permanent exhibition at the National Historic Park, Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan.  She also produced a series of five mural panels, “The Acadians,” in 1956, depicting their arrival, colonization, expulsion and return.  In 1987 the murals were acquired by Sainte-Anne University in Pointe de l’Église, Nova Scotia.

She settled in Florence in 1960, learning lost-wax casting for her sculptures.  She entered her work in an exhibition at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa in Florence in 1962 and received the Porcellino Award for the best resident foreign artist. She subsequently studied in Rome and Greece, finally settling in Milan in 1963.  In 1964 she completed an eighty-figure sculpture in bronze illustrating Danté’s Divine Comedy for the 700th anniversary of his birth.  The sculpture was eventually purchased by the Government of Canada.  A retrospective of her work was held in 1975 at the Cultural Centre of Turin under the sponsorship of Fiat.

During her extended stay in Italy she received several commissions from both the public and private sectors for sculptures in bronze and for her paintings.  The National Film Board of Canada profiled her life and work in Canada, Italy and Greece in a documentary called “In Search of Medea.” In 1971, Sylvia Lefkovitz received the price Premio Nazionalle di  Pittura « Il Morazzone » of l’Associazone « Pro Morazzone » at the Palazzo communale in Morazzone.  In 1972 and 1973 she was awarded the Galleria d’Arte de Palazzo Doria, Genoa and the Premio Nazionalle della Grafica, S. Michele d’Oro.

Although living in Italy, Sylvia stayed in touch with her Canadian roots and in 1967 she was awarded a commission for the creation of an ensemble of ninety separate figures in bronze commemorating the 100th anniversary of Confederation.  The sculptures travelled throughout Canada and in the same year she sculpted “The Chorus,” five life-size figures in bronze which were placed at the entrance of  Mies Van Der Rohe’s Westmount Square complex in Montreal.

In 1977 the artist was commissioned to produce a dry-point medium interpretation of the Song of Songs in a limited edition book format. She was also commissioned in the same year to produce lithographs that were printed at the Poligrafico e zecca dello Stato.

Sylvia returned to Montreal in 1981 after an absence of twenty years. She renewed her ties with Galerie l’Art Français (today Galerie Valentin), the gallery that first exhibited her work in the 1950s. The artist died in 1987. She was 63 years old.


Sylvia Lefkovitz was primarily concerned with human beings, solitary, frequently portrayed with a minimum definition that invites reflection on the human condition.  Her sculptures are often one of a kind.


Lefkovitz produced sculptures in bronze and a few in silver or marble, paintings in oil on canvas as well as murals and prints.


2006 :             Between Montreal, Mexico & Milan : Sculptures and paintings from the estate of the artist, Galerie Valentin, Montreal

1986 :            The Acadians, five mural panels, sponsored by Manuge Galleries Ltd. of Halifax and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Lameque, Nova Scotia

1985 :              Bronze sculptures and paintings, Galerie l’Art Français

1983 :              The Acadians, Manuge Galleries Ltd., Halifax

1975 :              Retrospective, Fiat Company, Cultural Centre, Turin, Italy

1972 :              Premio Nazionale della Grafica, Lithographs, Palazzo Doria, Genova

1971 :              Osaka, Japan

1971 :              The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

1969 :              Canada House, London

1968 :              Bronze sculptures, Teatro dell’Opera, Genova, Italy

1967 :           Inauguration of the building Westmount Square by Mies Van der Rohe and the sculpture Chorus, representing 5 human size figures.

1965-73 :       Bronze sculptures, oils, drawings and lithographs, Turin, Milan, Genova, Bari, Treccani, Italy

1965 :             Divina Commedia(Bronze sculpture with 83 figures), Palazzo Reale, Aosta, Italy

1965 :              Palazzo Comunale, Florence

1965 :              Palazzo Comunale, Aosta

1965 :              Paintings, Palazzo Venezia, Rome

1964 :             Divina Commedia(Bronze sculpture with 83 figures), Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy

1962 :              Paintings & sculptures,  Waddington Gallery, Montreal

1962 :              Paintings & sculptures, Galleria Montenapoleone, Milan

1962 :              Palagio di Parte Guelfa, Florence

1957 :              Paintings and murals (The Acadians), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1956 :              The Louis Riel murals, St. Helen’s Island, Montreal


Musée d'art de Joliette, Québec

Montreal Museum of Fine Art

Musée Louis-Hémon, Péribonka, Québec

Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick, St-Jean, Nouveau Brunswick

Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal

Musée historique de Batoche, Saskatchewan

Sainte-Anne à Pointe de l'Église University, Nova Scotia

Private, corporate and public institutions in Canada and Europe

Permanent collections of private galleries


Campini, Dino, Arte Italiana Per Il mondo, volume Primo, Torino, Società Editoriale Nuova, 1970

Jules Bazin, "Le retour de Sylvia Lefkovitz", Vie des Arts, Vol. XXVIII, No 114 (Marh-April-May 1984), p. 61-62

Dino Campini, "Sylvia Lefkovitz scultrice canadese", Il Conciliatore, No 4 (April, 15, 1968), p. 130-132

Lisette Belotti, "Alla ricerca di Dante", Immagina (art magazine), No 15 (1965), p. 4

G.L. Luzatto, "Artisti ebrei : L’illustrazione della Divina Commedia di Sylvia Lefkovitz", K’Eco dell’educazione ebraica, Anno XVIII, No 4 (November 1964), p. 11

"Bravo, Sylvia", The Elizabethan, Panorama de Ville Marie, Vol. 5, No 10





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