Feature Story                                                  Thursday, Nov 23, 2016


Canadian Art Auction Breaks Record

Masterpieces from Carr, Reid on the block, Imperial Oil bids over $11M for a Harris piece

Heffel Fine Arts


Among Emily Carr works include the painting above of Alert Bay. A poem entitled: August: All Woes Forgot: Sail the North (below) is at the Royal Archives & Museum and wasn't for sale with this lot. Mountain Forms by Lawren Harris below sold to Imperial Oil for over $11 million.

n Wednesday in Toronto, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, Canada's art market leader, held the highest grossing art auction in Canadian history.

With masterpieces by Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson and A.J. Casson leading the sale, a treasure trove of important works of art were sold at the semi-annual live auction.

Shattering presale estimates of $22 million to $32 million, the auction total exceeded a remarkable $41 million, demonstrating the strength of the market and the undying appetite for important masterpieces. (All prices are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 per cent buyer's premium).

Lawren Harris' highly anticipated Mountain Forms led the fall auction with a remarkable sale price of $11,210,000. Strong competition from bidders in the saleroom and on the phones drove the 1926 canvas to a new artist record and a new record for a Canadian work at auction, more than doubling the previous record.

The visual impact, date, provenance and exhibition history all factored into its successful sale. The work also had personal connections for Heffel as it was owned and sold in the 1980s by Kenneth Heffel, father of David and Robert. The painting recently starred in The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, the celebrated exhibition that toured major institutions in Boston, Los Angeles and Toronto.

"There is no question that Mountain Forms is deserving of the Canadian record," said David Heffel, President of Heffel Fine Art Auction House. "There was overwhelming passion and attention for the work, and thanks to international interest in Harris, the exceptional canvas achieved a truly international result."

For the first time, Heffel's fall auction was presented in four separate catalogues. In addition to its longstanding Post-War & Contemporary Art and Fine Canadian Art sessions, The Peter & Joanne Brown Collection featured 90 significant works and became the most valuable single-consignor collection sold in the Canadian art market. Gustave Caillebotte: Iris bleus, jardin du Petit Gennevilliers was also featured as a dedicated session and continued the Heffel tradition of offering high-end international art at live auction.

Noteworthy results from the Fall 2016 Live Auction

• International acclaim and spirited bidding sparked a world record for Group of Seven founder, Lawren Harris and a new Canadian auction record. The iconic 1926 canvas, Mountain Forms sold for an extraordinary $11,210,000 and established itself as the most valuable work by a Canadian artist ever sold at auction (est. $3,000,000 – 5,000,000).

• Other works by Lawren Harris fetched exceptional prices in the sale. Two impressive oil on boards led the pack – Mountain Sketch LXIII sold for $2,006,000 (est. $700,000 – 900,000) and Mount Robson from Berg Lake for $1,888,000 (est. $600,000 – 800,000). Inclusive of Mountain Forms, 10 works by Harris in Heffel's fall auction totalled $16,961,320.

• A.J. Casson's Country Crisis canvas is considered the most famous work by the Group of Seven artist. The magnificent work sold for $1,534,000, smashing the previous artist record (est. $600,000 – 800,000).

• Sleet Storm, the rare painting by the legendary Tom Thomson sold for $1,534,000 (est. $1,000,000 – 1,500,000). The work relates to a significant canvas by the artist, included in the Thomson Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.



• Highly-anticipated works by Emily Carr also exceeded presale expectations, including the outstanding canvas, Alert Bay (with Welcome Figure) that sold for $1,062,000 (est. 900,000 – 1,200,000) and the vibrant Maude Island Totem that fetched $885,000 ($400,000 – 600,000).




• William Kurelek's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, possibly the artist's most important self-portrait, led the Post-War & Contemporary Art session and broke the artist record, selling for $531,000 (est. $300,000 – 350,000).



• Iris bleus, jardin du Petit Gennevilliers, an 1892 oil on canvas by French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte went for a strong price of $678,500 (est. $600,000 – 800,000).






• Significant post-war and contemporary artworks by Quebec artists reached impressive heights, including Guido Molinari's Mutation bi-sιrielle at $306,800 (est. $100,000 – 150,000) and Jean Paul Lemieux's Dimanche at $914,500 (est. $700,000 – 900,000).



• An artist record was set for First Nations artist Bill Reid with the powerful Killer Whale (Chief of the Undersea World) sculpture. The work reached a final price of $1,180,000, well above its presale estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.



• James Wilson Morrice's classic Canadian scene, The Woodpile, Sainte-Anne-de-Beauprι, sold for $1,180,000 and is demonstrative of the continued strength in the Quebec impressionist market (est. $1,000,000 – 1,500,000).

• Major canvases painted during Group of Seven period brought in exceptional results, including Arthur Lismer's 1920 Spring on the Sackville River, NS for $855,500 (est. $600,000 – 800,000) and A.Y. Jackson's 1930 Eskimo Summer Camp, Pangnirtung for $531,000 (est. $300,000 – 500,000).

• A total of 10 artist records were broken in the fall auction including the sale of "The Flora S. Nickerson" (with Barked Sails) Outward Bound for the Labrador by David Blackwood for $177,000 (est. $60,000 – 80,000)


• White and Blue Out of Red by Gordon Smith for $177,000 (est. $50,000 – 70,000) and Inside Passage 2/87: Grenville Channel by Takao Tanabe for $188,800 (est. $30,000 – 40,000).



For more information on the pieces included in this year's fall auction, visit www.heffel.com.


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