Florence Vale

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Florence Vale
Born(1909-04-18)April 18, 1909
llford, Essex, England
DiedJuly 23, 2003(2003-07-23) (aged 94)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Spouse(s)Albert Franck

Florence Vale (April 18, 1909[1] - July 23, 2003) was a Canadian artist influenced by Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism, and the works of Paul Klee.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Vale was born in llford, Essex, England. She immigrated to Toronto with her family when she was two years old. A piano-maker and musician, Florence's father taught her to play piano[3] at a young age and entertained the family with toys and puzzles he created himself. Florence's mother was a music-hall musician. Vale had no formal art training; her formal schooling ended at the age of eleven with grade seven, after which she held a series of jobs in Toronto's garment district. When she was eighteen she met Dutch-born artist Albert Franck, a swimming instructor at the Oakwood pool who was teaching her brothers to dive. They were married two years later and had two children, Trudy (who died as an infant) and Anneke.[4]


Vale was introduced to the world of visual art by her husband, Dutch-born artist Albert Jacques Franck,[5] who painted views of Toronto backyards and houses.[6]

In the late 1940s, Vale began to experiment with her husband's paints and brushes. In contrast to Franck's paintings of urban scenes, Vale's subjects were often imaginative and even imaginary.[7]

Together, Franck and Vale were a part of the Gerrard Street bohemian circle [8] and their Victorian home on Hazelton Avenue in Toronto became a centre for young artists, CBC personalities, writers, musicians, and critics.[9][10] Vale was thus exposed to a wide variety of artistic influences.

After Franck's death in 1973, Vale continued to create oil paintings, collages, and ink drawings, also included her own poetry in some of her works. Many of her works, most prominently after the death of her husband, were erotic, while still viewed by critics as keeping a whimsical, innocent tone.[1] A series of her drawings was published as The Amorous Unicorn.[11] Her art appeared in exhibitions in Ontario, Quebec, and New York City, U.S.A. She was associated with the Gadatsy Gallery in Toronto.[2]

Vale’s small 1965 pen and ink drawing Pyramid of Roses was the inspiration for Harold Town’s series of Vale Variations as well as Christopher Chapman and Gordon McLennan’s short film celebrating both Town’s Variations and the original Vale drawing.[12]

Vale died on July 23, 2003 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


  • The Amorous Unicorn , The Porcupine's Quill, May 15, 1984 ISBN 0889840571 [12]


  1. ^ a b Reviewing Journal of Canadian Materials for Young People. Canadian Library Association. 1984. p. 256.
  2. ^ a b "Fonds SC110 - Florence Vale fonds". ICA-AtoM. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  3. ^ Iris Nowell (2001). Joyce Wieland: A Life in Art. ECW Press. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-1-55022-476-4.
  4. ^ Town, Harold (1974). Albert Franck: His Life, Times & Work. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. p. 13.
  5. ^ Loren R. Lerner; Mary F. Williamson (1 January 1991). Art and architecture in Canada: a bibliography and guide to the literature to 1981. University of Toronto Press. pp. 574–. ISBN 978-0-8020-5856-0.
  6. ^ Artmagazine. Art Magazine, Incorporated. 1980. p. 48.
  7. ^ Jerrold A. Morris (1 January 1980). 100 Years of Canadian Drawings. Methuen. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-458-94570-2.
  8. ^ Luckyj, Natalie (1980). Metamorphosis: Memories, Dreams and Reflections: The Work of Florence Vale. Kingston, Ontario: Agnes Etherington Art Centre. p. 15. ISBN 0-88911-015-8.
  9. ^ Iris Nowell (2011). P11, Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art. Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 300–. ISBN 978-1-55365-590-9.
  10. ^ "Two Artists at Home: Albert Franck and Florence Vale", Ontario Homes & Living Magazine September 1965, 12-13.
  11. ^ Dean Tudor; Ann Tudor (1985). Canadian Book Review Annual. Peter Martin Associates. p. 257.
  12. ^ a b "Books in Print: The Amorous Unicorn by Florence Vale". PorcupinesQuill.ca. The Porcupine's Quill. Retrieved 8 March 2015.

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