A season of important works and great potential awaits Canadian art collectors
Conservative estimates and lots of variety mean something for everyone in $30 million offering
Headlining Heffel's inaugural Canadian Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on November 19 is Jean-Paul Riopelle's "Composition #2". The 1951 canvas, 50" x 65", carries a $1/1.5 million estimate.
One of the star lots in Joyner's strong fall auction is William Kurelek's "Balsam Avenue after Heavy Snowfall". The 23.5" x 24" mixed media, painted in 1972, is expected to sell for $175/200,000.
The undisputed stars of Walker's fall auction are two magnificent works from the Beaver Hall Hill school. Shown here is one of them, Marion Dale Scott's "The Cliff Path",26" x 24", painted in 1930 and estimated at $60/90,000.
Levis Auctions gets the fall season under way for the Canadian art market with a solid sale on November 16. One of the highlights is Doris McCarthy's "Above the Penny Ice Cap", a 30" x 36" canvas from 1981 estimated at $15/20,000.
Despite the air of uncertainty hanging over world art markets at this time, the fall offering of Canadian art will almost certainly whet the appetite of serious collectors and investors, and the potential is certainly present for another record, or near-record, season. All three major salesrooms have put together strong catalogues with some extremely important works up for grabs. Combined, the top three rooms are expecting $25/35 million in sales, while the market’s junior rooms could add another $2/3 million.
Clearly auction houses across the country are concerned about the current economic climate, but all are optimistic in their outlook and projections. Estimates, for the most part, are perhaps more conservative than usual, and several rooms have already polled both consignors and potential buyers to test the waters and are finding strong support and positive responses.
So what does the market have to look forward to and offer this fall?
Heffel Fine Art Auction House is holding a two-session sale in Toronto November 19th. The first session, at in the afternoon, features the company’s inaugural sale of Canadian Post-War and Contemporary art that carries a pre-sale estimate of $4/6 million. Highlighting the sale is Jean-Paul Riopelle’s Sans titre (Composition #2), a 50” x 65” drip canvas from 1951 estimated at $1/1.5 million. Overall estimates appear to be more aggressive in this session than the regular session later in the evening. However, if the market holds we will doubtless see many new artists’ records set by the time the hammer falls on the final lot. Likely candidates would be works by Paterson Ewen, Jean-Paul Mousseau, William Ronald, Alex Colville and even Paul-Emile Borduas.
The timing of this inaugural sale could not have been more precarious in light of the current slump in contemporary art markets worldwide however, the saleroom has proved in the past that it has a strong and loyal following which they undoubtedly will be calling on to see them through this particular session.
Later the same day, Heffel will hold its regular Canadian art session, with some spectacular offerings and a sale expectation of $8/10 million. Top price in this session is Emily Carr’s Alert Bay Burial Ground at $900/1.2 million, while several other works carry $600/800,000 estimates including three by Tom Thomson. Overall there are six Thomsons in the sale, and no less than sixteen A.Y. Jacksons! The estimates throughout the sale are tantalizingly low in many cases and will almost certainly encourage bidding. A case in point would be the ten linocuts by Sybil Andrews, none of which is estimated higher than $25/35,000 and this in a market where no less than five works have sold for $60,000 or more this year. Other tempting works come from the brushes of Edwin Holgate, Kathleen Daly Pepper, Helen McNicoll, Mabel May and Clarence Gagnon.
Sotheby’s, in association with Ritchies, will be holding their fall sale of Canadian art on November 24th in Toronto and expectations are running high that this will be a landmark auction for the company. The pre-sale estimate sits at $9.5/13.5 million with important works from all sectors of the market on offer. Carrying the sale’s highest estimate is Lawren Harris’s Northern Landscape #25, a 32” x 36” canvas painted in 1924 (illustrated upper right). Much of the publicity for the sale, however, has focused on Frederick Varley’s Green and Gold, Portrait of Vera, a captivating work by the artist that the catalogue describes as “uniquely engaging, intimate and mercilessly seductive.” It carries a $500/700,000 estimate. Also of note among the top end of the market are works from Emily Carr ($500/700,000), Tom Thomson ($450/650,000), Jean-Paul Riopelle ($400/600,000), David Milne ($300/500,000) and James Wilson Morrice ($300/500,000).
Although not offering a specific session devoted to post-war and contemporary works, Sotheby’s has always been a strong proponent of this period and this sale reflects the company’s continued interest and focus. In addition to the Riopelle (there are six in total in the sale) works by several members of the Painters Eleven will be keenly contested, as will pieces by Yves Gaucher, Guido Molinari, Ivan Eyre and Gershon Iskowitz.
Following closely on the heels of Sotheby’s sale, Joyner Fine Art offers its two-session sale of Canadian art November 25 & 26, with a pre-sale estimate in the $4/5 million range. Highlighting the first session will be Tom Thomson’s Fall Woods, Algonquin, 8.5” x 10” estimated at $600/800,000. Emily Carr’s Yan, Q.C.I., 1912, $300/350,000, William Kurelek’s Balsam Avenue after Heavy Snowfall, $175/200,000, Jean-Paul Lemieux’ L’Heure du Train (150/200,000) and A.Y. Jackson’s Echo Bay, Great Bear Lake, 40” x 50” at $150/200,000 are among the top pieces on offer. Important paintings from Laura Muntz, Jack Bush, and Marc-Aurele Fortin are also in the mix.
This sale offers collectors a broad selection of quality mid and lower range works and it will be interesting to see if the trend set in the 2007/08 auction year that saw this sector of the market flourish, holds firm.
Bonhams, the new boys to the Canadian art market, will be holding their fall session of Canadian art on December 2 in Toronto, and are estimating a sale total in the $400/600,000 range. Highlighting the sale will be two pristine, untouched works by Cornelius Krieghoff. In the Mountains below Quebec, a circular work, 17.5" in diameter, carries a $60/80,000 estimate, while Autumn in West Canada, Chippeway Indians, 14" x 22", is estimated at $100/150,000. A collection of 33 watercolours painted in the trenches during World War I by a Canadian soldier, Reuben Jukes, is sure to attract attention. Family tradition says that the artist sent the paintings home listed as the personal effects of a deceased soldier.
Other sale highlights include a good Quebec landscape from A.Y. Jackson, and an important 1964 work from Painters Eleven member Ray Mead. There are also three Sybil Andrews linocuts up for grabs, including Racing at $50/70,000, and an intriguing 1965 ‘nail’ sculpture from David Partridge.
In Ottawa, Walkers Fine Art hold their semi-annual fine art auction on November 27th and are looking in the $400/600,000 range as a pre-sale estimate. The main focal point of the auction will be two major canvases from Beaver Hall Hill members Anne Savage and Marian Dale Scott. Savages Blue Ice (Lake Wonish), a 35" x 40" canvas carries an estimate of $60/90,000, the same estimate given to Scott's The Cliff Path, 26" x 24". Works by A.J. Casson, Sir Frederick Grant Banting, and members of the Painters Eleven are also among saleroom highlights as is John Lyman’s Woman in White Collar, the watercolour sketch for the artist’s painting in the National Gallery of Canada.
Out west, and kicking off the main auction season, is Levis Art Auctions with their fall sale on November 16th. Pre-sale estimate for a mix of Canadian and international works is around $600,000. Featured on the catalogue cover is an outstanding work of Broughton Island painted in 1981 by Doris McCarthy and estimated at $15/20,000. Other notable names to watch for include Molly Lamb Bobak, Ted Harrison, A.Y. Jackson, Illingworth Kerr, Janet Mitchell, William Perehudoff and sculptures from Suzor-Cote and William McElcheran.
Across town Hodgins Art Auctions is still wrapping up the loose ends for their November 24th & 25th sale of Canadian and International works of art. The sale so far has a contemporary flavour with the usual broad selection of Alberta favourites such as Illingworth Kerr, Georgia Jarvis, and Roland Gissing, augmented by strong works from William Kurelek and Norval Morrisseau.
That’s it! Plenty works of quality, variety and importance for collectors to bid on or to ogle over as the case may be. Is the market up for a $30 million splurge? We’ll find out soon enough.
Important Canadian & International Works of Art
Date: March, 2013
Visit our Live Auction site soon for a preview of Canadian & International artworks to be offered in our upcoming sale.