OTTAWA - Foreign service staff and art lovers are grumbling about new Minister John Baird's decorating tastes inside the lobby of the department's headquarters.

A pair of historic paintings by Quebec modern master Alfred Pellan have been removed from their decades-old spot and replaced by a portrait of the Queen.

The change was ordered in late June just before the visit of Prince William and Kate.

The area facing the front doors of the Lester B. Pearson building has now been declared the Sovereign's Wall.

The bright Pellan paintings of the west and east coasts of Canada were commissioned during World War II for an embassy, and have hung in the Ottawa building since the Queen officially opened it in 1973.

Pellan is considered one of the country's foremost modern artists, and has a federal riding named after him along with other public spaces in his home province.