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Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

Artist saw past facade of enigmatic leader

Saturday, September 30, 2000

VICTORIA -- The Victoria artist who painted the official portrait of Pierre Elliott Trudeau faced a difficulty when she was summoned to Quebec nine years ago.

The former prime minister, then 71, had chosen Myfanwy Pavelic of British Columbia over dozens of other artists to paint the portrait of him the government had commissioned, but he wanted it to be done in Montreal.

"I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and said: 'I'm sorry, but he'll have to come to me,' " Mrs. Pavelic recalled yesterday.

And he did. The result of Mr. Trudeau's two visits to her studio and home in January, 1991, hangs in the House of Commons.

Mrs. Pavelic, 84, said she didn't want to paint Mr. Trudeau in his native Montreal because she wanted to spend time with him outside his usual element. He spent six days in two visits to Mrs. Pavelic's home outside Victoria.

"It was certainly not the outside of the man I wanted to capture," she said. "I wanted to get the inside of the man, just by listening to him and spending time together."

Mr. Trudeau was a gracious house guest, she said, introducing himself to her husband in Mr. Pavelic's native Croatian.

He never really posed for the portrait, Mrs. Pavelic said. Instead, he spent time talking with her in the studio.

"He didn't want to have his portrait painted," she said. "He said all that posing business, I don't like it."

Mr. Trudeau was punctual and He talked fondly of his three sons.

"I was very conscious of his enormous affection for his three boys," she said. "Anytime one of their names came up, his expression would change and soften."

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