BRITISH COLUMBIA ARTISTS  

Charles (Carlos) Sergison Marega

September 24 1871 - March 24 (27?) 1939



Sculptor
Canadian Handicrafts Guild (Member 1914-?)
Instructor, VSDAA/VSA (1925-39)
B.C. Society of Fine Arts (President 1917-18)
B.C. Society of Fine Arts/B.C. Society of Artists: Exhibitor's Timeline
B.C. Art League (Organizing Committee 1920)
Vancouver Exhibition
Palette and Chisel Club (President)
Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver (Member 1931)


  
Charles Marega

  
Marega's studio

Charles Marega was one of Vancouver's most noted sculptors. The legacy of his work remains for our viewing pleasure throughout Vancouver - from the lions of the Lions Gate Bridge to Captains Burrard and Vancouver on the Burrard Bridge. Other public works include the Harding Memorial in Stanley Park, the King George memorial fountain at the Art Gallery, the heroic bronze statue of Captain Vancouver at Vancouver City Hall (with a duplicate in London, England), the Joe Fortes Memorial at English Bay, and the large bust of Oppenheimer on Beach Avenue at the entrance to Stanley Park across from the Parks Board offices.

 
Stanley Park seawall, Coal Harbour. Photographs by Gary Sim

He was born Carlos Marega in Lucinico, Trieste, Italy, in 1871, and died in Vancouver in March 1939. He arrived in Vancouver in 1909 with his wife Bertha, after artistic training in Trieste and Vienna and travels in Europe and South Africa. Although they were just passing through Vancouver on a trip, they liked it and stayed for many years.

     
Oppenheimer memorial, Stanley Park, 1910, photos by Gary Sim

Marega was commissioned to do the Oppenheimer bust in 1910. It was originally intended that another artist do the commission, but it was discovered that the other artist had passed away two years prior to the commission. Thus the comment in the 1909 review by "Felix Penne" (see clippings below).

It was cast with a date of 1911 in England by Elkington & Company Ltd., a company who started their business in the 1830s. Most of their work was not cast bronze work like this, and 1911 is one of the latest dates known for a bronze casting by them.

In 1910 Marega wrote at least two articles for Mitton's Home Builder, a local magazine published by local architect E. Stanley Mitton.

  
Decorations to the Sun Building, 1912.

  
King Edward VII fountain, 1912 (click for more images)


Proposed Pauline Johnson Memorial, c1913

Marega entered sculptures into B.C. Society of Fine Arts (BCSFA) annual exhibitions, including the 1917 show, where he also provided a sculpture by Prof. Novello of Verona, Italy, to the Loan Collection.

He was listed in the 1914 Social Register as a member of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild.

A short biography of Marega was published in The Gold Stripe, Volume One, printed just before Christmas 1918. Marega also had photographs of his sculpture illustrated on the cover of both that issue and The Gold Stripe, Volume Two in 1919. There were also illustrations of his work, including "Their Name Liveth Evermore" in 1919.

     
From The Gold Stripe, 1918 & 1919

Marega was President of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts from 1917 to 1918, after which he resigned. The BCSFA board expressed their regret, and moved to ask him to "clearly state the reason for this rather extreme action". There is no record of his reply. (information from BCSFA Fond, Vancouver City Archives)

He was involved in the foundation of the B.C. Art League, sitting on the organization committee in 1920.

In 1921, for reasons now apparently unknown, he sold his house, and plaster business to Alimando Fabri, and he and his wife moved back to Europe, also traveling to South Africa and South America. Two years later in 1923 they moved back to Vancouver, where they rented a house or apartment for the rest of their stay.

              
Harding Memorial, Stanley Park, 1925, photos by Gary Sim


Unveiling the Maple Tree monument, 1925. Photograph Stuart Thomson (q.v.)

He was appointed as instructor of modelling at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, beginning in the school's first year of operation in 1925. He lectured on sculpture to the B.C. Art League, and published extracts from this lecture in the June 1926 VSDAA annual, known as "The Paint Box." A student Class Report in the annual (page 27) noted that Marega's assistant at the school was Mr. Alfredo Dal Fo (actually Dalfo).

Alfredo Dalfo was born in Pittsburgh in 1905, to Italian-born parents. The family moved to Vancouver around 1912. The 1925 City Directory lists him as "artist" living at 622 Union Street. The City Directory for 1926 lists him as Marega's apprentice; as his modelmaker in 1927; as his apprentice in 1928; as his shop hand in 1929; and as his helper in 1931. In 1945 he married Rose Iaci in Vancouver, his occupation noted as "model maker" and "Owner of model shop."


Marega teaching the founding class at the art school, 1925-26

Marega exhibited sculptures in the first exhibition of the Palette and Chisel Club in 1926.

     
Joe Fortes Memorial, 1927, photos G. Sim (click on photographs for more information)

In 1928 Marega donated a "sculptured replica in white marble of the death mask of Pauline Johnson" to the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver. (AHSAV fond, Vancouver City Archives)

Marega was comissioned to do a relief panel above the main entrance to the Vancouver Technical School on Broadway, designed in 1928 by Townley and Matheson.


Marega relief panel over Technical School entrance, photo G. Sim Sept. 21 2022

Marega was commissioned to design a war memorial Cenotaph for Prince Rupert, B.C., which was installed on the Courthouse grounds in 1929.


Prince Rupert Cenotaph, photo courtesy War Monuments in Canada:
https://www.cdli.ca/monuments/bc/rupert.htm

He exhibited in the Seattle Art Museum's annual Northwest Artists exhibition in 1930.

Marega exhibited at the Vancouver Exhibition in 1930, representing the Palette and Chisel Club. He also exhibited with the B.C. Society of Fine Arts from 1932 to 1934. Marega was one of only three local artists to display work in The Founders Collection, the first exhibition held at the Vancouver Art Gallery when it opened in October 1931.

  
Bust of Thomas Fripp by Marega, 1931


Art Gallery Entrance from 1931 Souvenir Exhibition catalogue.

This is a digital scan of the original catalogue for the first exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. An original photographic print has been "tipped into" the catalogue. The busts of Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci on each side of the entrance were created by Charles Marega, who also donated them to the gallery.

     
Burrard Bridge, opened 1932

     
Captain Vancouver, proposed and actual, Vancouver City Hall, 1936.

Marega designed the coat of arms over the entrance to the Seaforth Armoury in 1936, and also designed a fireplace surround in the building.


Seaforth Highlanders Armoury - Coat of Arms

Marega taught at the Vancouver School of Art literally until his death in 1939 - passing away from a heart attack after teaching his last class. He was a founding instructor at the art school, and Vancouver's most important early sculptor.

   
Lions Gate Bridge, east lion


William (Billie) Lort, Ross Lort's son, told me the following story. When Marega was working on the design for the lions at the south entrance to the Lion's Gate Bridge, he asked Ross Lort on which side of each lion Lort thought the tails should go. Lort suggested that the lions should each have two tails, one on each side, and that way viewers would see a tail no matter which side they were looking from (any very few people would ever climb onto either lion and notice that there were two tails). Marega apparently did not think this was funny, and the lions have one tail each.

  
Details - Hycroft Manor fireplace. Photographs Gary Sim.

                                 
Photographs taken by Gary Sim from contact prints in Marega fond at Vancouver City Archives, AM 1416. January 2023.

Art historian and writer Peggy Imredy put together a huge collection of images of Charles Marega and his work. She donated the entire collection to the Vancouver City Archives, along with much of her research material. The folder with negatives and contact prints includes approximately 700 photographs. There is no index to the images, none are titled, numbered, or described in any way. The 17 images above were digitally photographed from the contact prints. All of the contact prints were sheathed in clear plastic holders, so all of these images were taken through the plastic holders. Many of the contact prints were photographs of photographs, thus many of these 17 images are third generation, resulting in obvious loss of quality. The first three photographs are presumably of the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, or perhaps another theatre that Marega worked on. The round medallion with a bas-relief of a couple is Marega himself and his wife Bertha. The fourth image from the last is probably Indian Totem Pole Carver first exhibited in 1933.


Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1909 Oct. - Nov. Vancouver Studio Club Autumn Exhibition (wax figures)
1910 May BCSFA   Third Exhibition Sculpture
1912 Nov. 25 - 30 BCSFA   Annual Exhibition Dr. McLoughlin
Indian Basket-Seller
Caryatids
Mozambique Boy
1915 April BCSFA   Works by Members The Miser
Good-bye
How to get the vote!
Sketch for Pauline Johnston Memorial
The Victor
1917 Sept. 14 - 22 BCSFA   Eleventh Exhibition A Comrade's Last Tribute (sculpture)
Doing Her Bit (sculpture)
1924 Aug. 9 - 16 Vancouver Exhibition   Annual Exhibition The Wounded Soldier
1926 Nov. 6 - 20 Palette and Chisel Club   First Exhibition (comic statuette)
(comic statuette)
Pauline Johnson death mask
(bronze Pan)
1928 Feb 18 - Mar 18 Palette and Chisel Club   Exhibition Mussolini (Mask)
Comic Stories (Grotesques)
Comic Stories (Grotesques)
Fighting Putti
Frances Bursill (Impression)
1930 Aug. 6 - 16 VanExh   Oil Paintings & Water-colours Mussolini - Bronzed Concrete
Squamish Indian, Bronzed Plaster
Christ - Plaster
1931 October 5 - ? VAG   The Founder's Collection T.W. Fripp, Artist (Bronze)
1932 May - July VAG   All Canadian Exhibition The Wounded Soldier
Squamish Indian
1932 Oct. 5 - 30 VAG   B.C. Artists 1st Annual Bernard McEvoy
Goodbye
1933 May 20 - 31 VAG   Palette & Chisel Club Exhibition The Prospector
Indian Totem Pole Carver
Squaw with Papoose
Indian Basket Seller
1933 Sept. 22 - Oct. 15 VAG   B.C. Artists 2nd Annual The Day is Done
Il Genio
1934 Sept. 21 - Oct. 14 VAG   B.C. Artists 3rd Annual Bas Relief in Bronze (Medallion)
1936 June 26 - July 12 BCSFA   26th Annual Head of Squamish Indian
Totem Pole Carver
Indian Basket Seller
1946 July 2 - 28 VAG   Jubilee Exhibition German Soldier (Caricature)
1950 April 25 - May 14 BCSA   40th Annual T.W. Fripp

References

THE GOLD STRIPE - VOLUME ONE
      1918, Christmas. Published by the Amputation Club of B.C., Vancouver
      216 pages (including text, advertisements and photographs)
      Heavily illustrated by many early Vancouver artists.
      Includes short biography of Marega and illustrations of his work.

VANCOUVER CITY SCHOOLS - TRUSTEES ANNUAL REPORT 1925
      Includes Faculty photo and photo of Marega sculpture class at work.

THE PAINT BOX Vol. 1 No. 1 June 1926
      44 pages, illust. black & white. Art, articles, humour, advertisements, student addresses
      Student Annual of the Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts
      Includes "Sculpture", extracts from a lecture given by Marega before the B.C. Art League
      Class reports: "Modelling Class" by Frances Gatewood

SEATTLE ART MUSEUM - NORTHWEST ARTISTS EXHIBITIONS 1914 - 1975
     Refer to NWA BC artists by exhibition
     Refer to NWAA BC artists alphabetically

WHO'S WHO IN NORTHWEST ART (refer to WWNA41)

100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)

THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)

PUBLIC ART IN VANCOUVER (refer to UBC72)

A GUIDE TO SCULPTURE IN VANCOUVER (refer to GSV80)

ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)

VANCOUVER: ART & ARTISTS 1931 - 1983 (refer to VAG83)

A DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN ARTISTS (refer to M)
      Short biography, eight references

A CENTURY OF SCULPTURE (refer to SSBC98)
      Numerous references to Marega, photographs, etc.

LION'S GATE by Lilia D'Acres & Donald Luxton
      1998, ISBN 0-88922-416-1; 178 pages, published by Talon Books
      Illustrated throughout; good information on Marega and the Lions.

BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA (refer to BIAC03)
      2 references cited for Marega: Macdonald and WWNA above.

PUBLIC ART IN VANCOUVER - ANGELS AMONG LIONS (refer to PAV09)

VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - B.C. ARTISTS FILES (refer to VPL)

CITY & PROVINCIAL DIRECTORIES 1915, 1922, 1925, 1932 (refer to DIR)

Peggy Imredy fond at Vancouver City Archives Fond AM1416
      Contains correspondence with Marega and various other people and organizations.
      Includes biographical summaries of Marega by Peggy Imredy for various events and publications.
      Includes approx. 700 black & white negatives of Marega, his wife, and his work.
           (Note: negatives are not listed separately, and there is no identification or date for any of them)

BC SOCIETY OF FINE ARTS fond at Vancouver City Archives

BC ART LEAGUE fond at Vancouver City Archives

https://covapp.vancouver.ca/PublicArtRegistry/ArtistDetail.aspx?FromArtistIndex=False&ArtistId=98

Italian Cultural Centre Charles Marega 150th Anniversary series of exhibitions:
      https://italianculturalcentre.ca/events/exhibits/beauxarts/

Clippings

"These (small wax figures) have the right feeling and directness of life and there is every indication the sculptor is capable of broader and more ambitious work - which I shall be glad to see. Soon Vancouver will not have to propose dead sculptors to design memorials - there are and will be living and capable sculptors nearer home than on the other bank of the Styx."
      (Review of Studio Club exhibition), by "Felix Penne"
      Vancouver World, October 1909

"Having in childhood taken my first steps in a sculptor's studio - having been constantly associated with the plastic art all my life - it is particularly pleasant to welcome to Vancouver a sculptor, Mr. C. Mareges, (sic) who is represented by little realistic groups in wax. These have the right feeling, a directness and life which reminds one of Geo. Tinworth, but there is every indication that the sculptor is capable of broader and more ambitious work - which I shall be glad to see."
      "The Studio Club Autumn Exhibition" by "Felix Penne"
      B.C. Saturday Sunset, October 30 1909

"Nor though have we spoken chiefly of painting, must we forget the sculptor Marega ..."
      From "Art in British Columbia", by Bernard McEvoy
      Opportunities Magazine, 1910

"How the Sculptor's Work Gives Character to the Home" by Charles Marega
      Mitton's Home Builder, Volume 1 Number 1, March c1910
      Vancouver City Archives fond AM1416.

"Artistic Garden Ornaments" by Charles Marega
      Mitton's Home Builder, Volume 1 Number 3, May c1910
      Vancouver City Archives fond AM1416.

"Thousands Witness Unveiling of Memorial to the Late King"
       Vancouver Sun May 7 1912

"There is only one exhibit of sculpture, namely that of Mr. C. Marega who contributes a portrait bust of his wife, remarkable for its vivacity, and said by those who know to be an excellent likeness; and a smaller bust of the late Right Hon. Sir Charles Tupper. Considering the disadvantages under which the artist labored in having to work only from photographs in this latter subject, he must be credited with a very satisfactory measure of success, the characteristics of the distinguished subject being brought out with a masterly vigor."
      From "With The B.C. Artists", by "A Visitor"
      Vancouver Daily Province, September 27 1916

"Among members who have had the advantage of European training in the continental schools are ... C. Marega (Rome, Florence, and Paris) ..."
      From "Eleventh Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts", Bernard McEvoy
      Studio Magazine. London England, February 15 1918

"The committees which will be recommended to the League were named as follows: ... C. Marega ..."
      From "B.C. Art League Committees Are Active"
      Western Woman's Weekly, October 9 1920

"The League unanimously expressed its approval of the proposed memorial by Mr. C. Marega, the sculptor, for erection over the grave of E. Pauline Johnson, in Stanley Park."
      "Important Meeting of B.C. Art League"
      Western Woman's Weekly, April 23 1921

"An energetic committee of which Mr. C. Marega is chairman, has the matter to hand ..."
      "Coming Art School"
      The Daily Province, January 13 1925

"At the entrance Mr. C. Marega's versatile chisel is seen in two comic statuettes, while further in the room is the pathetic and beautiful face of Pauline Johnson in white marble, and in the last bay we came to a bronze Pan of imaginative subtlety." (continues)
     From Palette and Chisel Club by Diogenes
     Vancouver Province November 6 1926

"Art Vs. Beer In B.C."
      The Province, January 28 1931

"Fripp Bust to be Presented"
      Vancouver Sun October 1931

"The only sculptor is Charles Marega." (continues)
      From "BRITISH COLUMBIA ART - Significance of First "All British Columbia Show" by Harold Mortimer Lamb
      Saturday Night December 10 1932

"Bronze Figure of Vancouver to Rule Scene"
      Daily Province (?) August 22 1936

"Heroic Bronze By Marega Is Acclaimed"
      Vancouver Sun, August 29 1936

"Lion In The Making"
      Saturday Night, Toronto; November 26 1938

"Ingenious Device Helps Move Heavy Lions for Bridgehead"
      Vancouver Sun January 13 1939

"Lions Now Guard Bridge"
      Vancouver Sun January 23 1939

"To Guard Narrows Span"
      Daily Province January 23 1939

"Noted Local Sculptor Dies"
      Vancouver Sun, March 25 1939

"Charles Marega Gained Fame for Many Works of Art Here"
      Daily Province March 25 1939

"Charles Marega, Noted Sculptor, Succumbs"
      (unknown newspaper) March 25 1939

"Funeral Of Famed Sculptor Tuesday"
      The Province, March 27 1939

"Vancouver Monuments" by Leonard W. Meyers (David Oppenheimer bust)
      Vancouver Sun February 14 1953

"Vancouver Monuments" by Leonard W. Meyers (King Edward VII fountain)
      Vancouver Sun February 21 1953

"Vancouver Monuments" by Leonard W. Meyers (Harding memorial)
      Vancouver Sun April 11 1953

"Vancouver Monuments" by Leonard W. Meyers (Joe Fortes fountain)
      Vancouver Sun April 18 1953

"Vancouver Monuments" by Leonard W. Meyers (Captain Vancouver statue)
      Vancouver Sun May 16 1953

"City Fountain 'Sore Thumb' So It's Kicked Down Drain" by Keith Bradbury
      Vancouver Sun April 28 1966

"Lionizing Sculptor Charles Marega" by Don McLellan, photography Kate Williams
      Article with five illustrations of Marega's work.
      Beautiful British Columbia Traveller magazine, pages 20, 24, 29, Fall 1995

Article on Marega, SCOUT online May 28 2018


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