1708081958 A priceless mural by a Montreal artist is hidden in

A priceless mural by a Montreal artist is hidden in an office at McGill University

“Wow!” We are amazed as we enter the premises of McGill University's Strathcona Pavilion, where endocrinologya mural with the theme of the encounter between art and science.

“Your reaction is common among people who come here and it is certainly the one that Dr. Hans Selye wanted it,” says Gwendolyn Owens, director of the institution’s Visual Arts Collection, with amusement.

“Endocrinology,” by Marian Dale Scott

Gwendolyn Owens, Director of the Visual Arts Collection at McGill University. Photo woman

Endocrinology is a work by Montreal artist Marian Dale Scott (1906-1993), who took two years in the middle of World War II, between 1941 and 1943, to create an individual striving for the cell nucleus. Around him, several figures embody the different aspects of the search for knowledge, from basic research to clinical application.

“Endocrinology,” by Marian Dale Scott

The artist signed his mural in the right corner after two years of work. Photo woman

Inspired by modern art, the work, which could be described as naive symbolist, was commissioned by the Eastern European endocrinologist Hans Selye (1907-1982), who after studying in the USA came to Montreal to complete his training, and is almost four by five meters in size. The central figure, surrounded by themes surrounding a researcher's work, climbs the steps of a staircase where we can read various translations of the phrase “Why?”

“Endocrinology,” by Marian Dale Scott

The basis of knowledge according to Dale Scott: the word “why” translated into several languages. Photo woman

Illustrate endocrinology…

The difficulty of this assignment is to correctly express ideas about this mysterious branch of medicine that focuses on hormones – Selye himself wrote the first-ever comprehensive manual of endocrinology – while evoking emotions in the viewer, explained the Montreal painter.

“I think that great scientists are also great artists, just as artists are also interested in science,” Dale Scott told Selye biographer Andrée Yanacopoulo in 1992.

For them, in any case, the contract from McGill University marks a turning point. It is his first mural and the first painting to depict the infinitesimal. For six months she only observed cells under the microscope…

In the words of Ms. Owens (who even refuses to reveal the cost of the restoration), it is an invaluable work. Art historian Esther Trépanier has compared endocrinology to significant murals created in the United States at the time, notably at the Rockefeller Center in New York by Diego Rivera.

“Endocrinology,” by Marian Dale Scott

Montreal artist Marian Dale Scott was the subject of a retrospective at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in 2000. Photo from Artistico RD website

Common friends

As the wife of civil law professor Francis Scott, the artist had several mutual friends with Dr. Selye, including Dr. Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor who became a legendary figure in the People's Republic of China for his care for the people and the training he provided to medical staff.

Hans Selye often hosted very popular social receptions at his residence on Avenue des Pins; We met Nobel Prize winners and cultural figures from Quebec and elsewhere. There was a lot of dancing, eating and drinking.

Unfortunately, Dr. Selye did not gain much from working at the Strathcona Pavilion as he accepted a position at the University of Montreal, where he would go down in history for developing the concept of general adaptation syndrome.

A discovery better known as “stress”.

“Endocrinology,” by Marian Dale Scott

Dr. Hans Selye Jean-Paul Rioux – Department of Archives and Information Management (DAGI) at the University of Montreal / Wikimedia Commons