Canadian Art HIstory is Made: Emily Carr fetches $3.393 Million at Heffel

november 29, 2013

Emily Carr’s painting The Crazy Stair sold for $2.9 million at the Heffel auction of Fine Canadian Art in Toronto Wednesday. After a 17-per-cent commission is added, the painting sold for $3.393 million, a record price for a Carr. It is the fourth most expensive Canadian work of art sold at auction.

The oil painting was done between 1928 and 1930, and features many of Carr’s classic motifs, including a totem, the forest and a canoe. It also had impeccable provenance: it was donated by lumber baron H.R. MacMillan to the Vancouver Club, where it hung in the front hall for many years.

The Carr painting was the highlight of a strong sale that netted over $13 million. A small but exquisite 1915 Tom Thomson sketch of Canoe Lake in Ontario sold for $1.45 million, or $1,696,500 after commission is added. (All prices from now on include commission.) It too had great provenance: Thomson had given it to his friend Fred Martin, whose family finally sold it nearly a century later.

A 1913 Thomson painting, Autumn, Algonquin Park, sold for $526,500, while the 1908-12 Carr watercolour War Canoe, Alert Bay went for $339,500.

There were several Jean-Paul Riopelle paintings in the auction, including an untitled abstract from 1954 that sold for $765,000. A giant Riopelle from 1977, Iceberg IV, sold for $491,000.

A 1963 Jean Paul Lemieux painting, L’eveque en noir, sold for $351,000, while a 1922 work by Lawren Harris, Herbert Lake, Algoma, went for $304,200.

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