Toronto (20BP) – Sotheby’s/Ritchies turned in another strong Canadian art performance November 20th with just under 200 lots grossing $7.4 million and leaving only 14% unsold. Fifteen works sold for more than $100,000 and while none topped the million dollar mark there were several pieces that performed well above expectations, the most notable of which was Tom Thomson’s Burnt Area with Ragged Rocks, (illustrated right) an 8.5” x 10.5” oil on panel that carried and estimate of $150/250,000. A powerful, classic Thomson image the market responded aggressively taking it to a new record for the artist at $934,000.
Despite the 10:30am Monday morning sale time, buyers were out in force to secure some stellar works. Emily Carr’s powerful forests were among the most sought after pieces particularly Young Tree in Surging Growth, a 35” x 23” oil on paper laid on panel which was expected to sell for $200/300,000 but ended up with a final bid of $520,000. Spring, a 24” x 18” oil on paper on panel fetched $301,500 against a $75/100,000 estimate.
Staying with West Coast artists, E.J. Hughes’ Kitwanga, a 24” x 36.5” canvas from 1981 found a buyer at $336,000, well above its $200/250,000 estimate. Moving north, A.Y. Jackson’s Indian Homes, Fort Resolution, 21” x 26” picked up a mid-estimate bid of $232,500, while a Lawren Harris Lake Superior Sketch XCIX found a buyer at a low estimate $209,500.
Much was expected of Alex Colville’s At Grand Pre, a 27” x 38” acrylic on masonite from 1982 that was offered with an estimate of $150/200,000 and preceded a series of 15 Colville prints all but one of which sold. At Grand Pre did not disappoint. It found a buyer at $301,500.
A rare canvas by Beaver Hall Group member Ethel Seath was destined to do well despite a pre-sale estimate of $40/60,000. Cab Stand in Phillips Square, 18” x 20”, was a market favourite for sure, picking up a bid of $267,000. Also favoured was Robert Pilot’s Twilight, Quebec, a 30” x 24” canvas with all the right ingredients for the Canadian buyer: snowy streets at dusk, people, a horse drawn cab and that essential splash of red. How could it fail? It didn’t, picking up a bid of $244,000 against a $100/150,000 estimate.
Emphasizing the continued strength of the so-called second tier of Canadian artists, Kathleen Daly Pepper’s Snow Rhythms, 20” x 25”, got the saleroom off to a great start when it fetched $33,000 against an $8/10,000 estimate. Alan Collier’s Snug Harbour, Labrador, 24” x 32” doubled its estimate with a bid of $11,400, while Kazuo Nakamura’s Core Suspension, 40” x 42” fetched an impressive $48,000, over three times the high estimate and a new record for the artist. Ivan Eyre continues to turn in some good market figures, his Winter Cairn in this sale fetching $39,000 against a $6/8000 estimate.
Cornelius Krieghoff’s Mail Boat Landing at Quebec was the most successful of several works by the artist in this sale. Estimated at $100/150,000 the 17” x 24.5” canvas showed that there is still considerable life in the historical market when it sold for $405,000. Also doing well was the artist’s Race across the St. Lawrence, 13.5” x 19.5” from 1866 that found a buyer at $117,500 double its mid expectations, and Return from Market, 14” x 21” fetched $175,000, well above its $90/120,000 estimate.
Marc-Aurele Fortin’s Houses in Winter, 22.5” x 28” sold for $111,750 against a $60/80,000 estimate and Frederick Varley’s B.C. Coast Forms, 12” x 15” picked up a bid of $255,500 against an estimate of $80/100,000. Jeune Femme, a 12.5” x 10.5” canvas on panel by Jean Paul Lemieux did well with a bid of $60,000, double its high estimate, and William Kurelek’s Paul Kane among B.C. Indians, a 48” x 24” mixed media fetched $129,000, comfortably over its $70/90,000 estimate.