Canadian Art Attic Discoveries Make Over CAD$250,000 At Bonhams Toronto Sale

Collectors and admirers of Canadian art competed for works in oil and watercolour in Bonhams’ auction in Toronto on Tuesday evening (Dec. 2, 2008). The sale realised CAD$543,000, with 68% of the lots selling (85% by value). These included several strong prices for works by Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, Norval Morrisseau, Sybil Andrews, Peter Whyte, and Manly MacDonald.

krieghoff.jpgFrom a private collection in England came a pair of Cornelius David Krieghoff works attracting significant interest among collectors, institutional curators and members of the trade. Autumn in West Canada, Chippeway Indians, an oil on canvas landscape, was acquired in the 1870s and descended within a British family’s collection, discovered in an attic before being consigned for sale with the international auctioneers. It sold on Tuesday for CAD $180,000 against a pre-sale estimate of CAD$100,000-150,000. Another work by the artist, a circular oil signed and inscribed by Krieghoff, depicts a horse-driven sleigh crossing a frozen creek. It sold for CAD$78,000.

A bidding battle was inspired by a Sybil Andrews linocut from 1934, described by the auctioneers as “a superb and vibrant impression.” Racing (originally tiled The Race) was printed from four blocks onto laid paper, signed, titled and numbered 1/60. The abstract work depicts jockeys racing horses; it ran to a strong finish, selling to an elated bidder for CAD$66,000. Steeplechasing, an Andrews linocut worked from three blocks, also sold within estimate – it jumped to CAD$21,600, this example numbered 52/60 and signed, titled and inscribed by the artist.

A winter scene Quebec Farm sold above estimate for CAD$54,000. The work was signed, titled and inscribed by the Toronto-based artist Alexander Young Jackson. The painting came to auction at Bonhams from an Ontario private collection. The oil on board was estimated at CAD$30/35,000 and had been sold by a Montreal gallery in the late 1940s.

Other works sold after competitive bidding included Peter Whyte’s Summer in the Rockies (brought CAD$11,400) and an untitled work acquired directly from its artist, Norval Morrisseau, which sold for three times its estimate, bringing CAD$7,500. Manly Edward MacDonald’s depiction of Lonsdale Mill on the Salmon River brought CAD$14,400 while 16 watercolour views painted on various battlefields by a Hanover, Ontario-born soldier fighting in World War One sold for CAD$6,600. Reuben Alvin Jukes enlisted in 1914 and, according to family history, often painted scenes of his surroundings while deployed in battle. He was discharged from active service in the Army in 1919. Each of the works was signed and dated in 1917 and 1918, the soldier’s titles and comments inscribed on the mounts.

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