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Rare & Exceptional Work Spanning More Than A Century of Canadian Art Draws Competition From In-Person, Telephone & Online Bidders

The September 24th Cowley Abbott Fine Art Live Auction of Important Canadian and International Art held in the elegant Aria Ballroom of The Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville was a resounding success. Exceptional artworks by Canada’s pre-eminent historical, post-war and contemporary artists achieved strong results for consignors, while collectors were connected with artworks of rarity and quality. 

Frederick Banting, Cobalt (1932)
Price Realized: $44,840

Cowley Abbott was pleased to be entrusted with three significant works by the esteemed artist and physician, Sir Frederick Grant Banting. 2021 marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin by Banting, a momentous discovery that changed the lives of millions of people and for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923. “Cobalt (1932)”, a striking canvas displaying Banting’s keen sense of colour, light and shadow sold for $44,840.  Two other paintings by the artist, including “Seville, Spain, 1933”, broke through its pre-sale estimate achieving $20,060, while “Birches, French River, 1930”, a quintessential work by the artist sold for $18,880. Brilliant results for this deserving historical Canadian icon. 

Cornelius Krieghoff, Skinner’s Cave and Owl’s Head Mountain, Lake Memphremagog
Price Realized: $47,200

The September live auction witnessed solid prices for a wide range of historical Canadian works of art, including the work of: A.Y. Jackson (“St. Tites des Caps” fetching $21,240 and “Sugar Shanty, L’Islet” selling for $24,780); Marc-Aurèle Fortin (“La Seine à Paris” selling for $8,850); David Milne (“Fox Hill on a Rainy Day, Boston Corners”, a rare watercolour executed in 1920 fetched $82,600) and Robert Pilot (“Autumn Landscape” selling for $17,700). Among the strong selection of historical Canadian artworks included in the sale were works entrusted from the collection of Senator E. Leo Kolber, including a rare canvas by Cornelius Krieghoff, “Skinner’s Cave and Owl’s Head Mountain, Lake Memphremagog”. The rugged grandeur, tightly observed detail and sublime drama of this painting injects the work with a high romanticism that only Cornelius Kreighoff could accomplish. This fresh to auction painting garnered much attention from collectors during our bustling previews, fetching $47,200. “The Fruit Shop, Ottawa” by Kathleen Moir Morris, another important work from the collection of Senator Kolber, sold for $73,337.

A key highlight in the auction were two exceptional watercolours by the celebrated Canadian artist, James Wilson Morrice. “Study for ‘The Pond, West Indies’” and “Study for ‘Village Street, West Indies’” are exemplary watercolours that showcase the artist’s technique and ability, acting as preparatory studies for the paintings in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Arts, which are among the best examples in the artist’s oeuvre. These special works made their debut at auction, finding new homes for over $22,000, respectively. 

Norval Morrisseau, Untitled (Moose Pair)
Price Realized: $35,400

From the moment of publication of the auction online, interest and excitement surrounded three paintings by the renowned Indigenous artist, Norval Morrisseau. These fresh to auction works, all acquired directly from the artist, illustrate the artist’s powerful and unique style, drawn from Anishnaabe cultural traditions. Two striking paintings depicting Harriet Kakegamic, the artist’s wife, each sold for $25,960 after much spirited bidding, while the enigmatic and endearing “Untitled (Moose Pair)” soared to $35,400. 

Doris McCarthy, Iceberg and Floes
Price Realized: $47,200

Cowley Abbott was delighted to offer numerous works by accomplished Canadian female artists, many of which garnered lively bidding during the September auction, notably, Molly Lamb Bobak’s energetic,“The Bike Race”. This work drew strong attention during the live auction preview season and it did not take long for competitive bidding to push the work well beyond the pre-sale expectation of $5,000-7,000, hammering down for $17,700. “Summer Landscape” by Nora Collyer followed suit, selling for $18,800; the electric canvas, “Abstraction”, by Rita Letendre fetched $25,960; the respected and loved Doris McCarthy had two works included in the sale – “Iceberg & Floes”, from her sought after Arctic series, which sold for $47,200, and an early work, “Two Boats at Barachois” selling for $9,440; while Maud Lewis achieved another remarkable result with “Three Black Cats” reaching $18,800. 

Multiple key sculptures were featured in the September 24th catalogue auction, including two important bronzes by Sorel Etrog: “Petachon” sold for $8,260 and “Untitled” for $23,600. A dynamic steel sculpture by Walter Yarwood of Painter’s Eleven sold for $4,484. A beautifully carved 20th Century Chest, a popular object with collectors, soared to $14,160 after spirited bidding between the telephone and the room. 

Guido Molinari, Tri-sériel rouge (1967)
Price Realized: $82,600

A variety of Post-War and Contemporary offerings captivated visitors attending the Cowley Abbott gallery during previews prior to the September evening sale. Guido Molinari’s “Tri-Sériel Rouge”, a late addition to the sale, garnered avid attention fetching $82,600 over the telephone; Jean McEwen’s enigmatic “Tableaux sans paroles #3” sold for $59,000; “Snow Play” by Ted Harrison, a favourite amongst collectors, climbed to $14,160; a painterly landscape by Gordon Smith sold for $23,600; Paterson Ewen’s “Untitled” fetched $14,160 and a quintessential work by Kazuo Nakamura sold for $28,320. 

The Atlantic magic realists exceeded expectations with Tom Forrestall’s shaped canvas, “Orchard” selling for a final price of $9,440 and Christopher Pratt’s “1887 Orange 13 Cent Stamp” hammering down for $12,980 after competitive bidding. 

We extend our thanks to the clients, bidders and buyers who helped to ensure that our September 24th Live auction was a triumph. We are already preparing a very exciting catalogue for the December Live Auction and look forward to sharing it with you. The fall auction season continues with The Canadian Landscape Online Auction running from October 20th-27th, followed by the November Auction of Canadian and International Art from November 10th-24th, taking place concurrently with the December Live Auction. 

Cowley Abbott is currently accepting consignments for its upcoming auctions and if you feel our firm can be of service, we would be pleased to provide a complimentary and confidential consultation. Please contact our specialists at 1-866-931-8415 or [email protected]