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Ukrainian Proverb Fetches $41,400 at Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s Fall Online Auction

(TORONTO – The Canadian Press – November 30th, 2014) A wintry William Kurelek painting that the artist gave to a Toronto woman as thanks for her homemade apple strudel and jam has sold for more than double its presale auction estimate.

Ukrainian Proverb sold Friday for $41,400 at Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s fall online sale. The presale estimate was $15,000 to $20,000.

Measuring 25 by 11 centimetres (not including the frame), the piece depicts a child sprawled on his stomach in the snow, holding a net while a white rabbit scurries away in the foreground and another runs towards the horizon.

Inscribed in the lower part of the composition is a Ukrainian proverb, written in English and Ukrainian (Kurelek had Ukrainian roots): “He who chases two rabbits at the same time catches neither.” Kurelek also wrote on the back of the intricately carved wooden frame, which he made himself: “Value, $400, mixed media, 1974.”

The painting’s owner — who wants to be identified only by her first name, Christina — says she inherited the 40-year-old piece when her mother died in 2007.

She believes her mother obtained the signed work sometime between 1974 and 1977, when Alberta-born Kurelek visited the Toronto home of a photographer he’d been working with for promotional purposes one summer. The photographer lived across the street from Christina’s parents’ home in the city’s High Park neighbourhood and Kurelek came to love her mother’s special strudel, which she brought over while visiting her neighbour.

The auction house calls the painting a “gem” that’s in “excellent condition.”

Consignor’s semi-annual auction, which closed shortly after 2 p.m. Friday, saw other notable highlights:

-Soft Greens in May, a 1979 canvas by Saskatchewan painter Dorothy Knowles, fetched $29,900 (almost double the presale auction estimate of $12,000 to 15,000)

-The Village Road, a 1982 acrylic by Ted Harrison sold for $29,900 (with an auction estimate of $15,000 to 20,000)

-and a 1960s work on paper by Norval Morrisseau, Warrior, sold for $27,600 (more than double its $8,000 to 12,000 estimate)

The 131-lot auction also featured works by such celebrated historical and postwar Canadian artists as A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, Franz Johnston, Emily Carr, P.C. Sheppard, Kathleen Morris, Nora Collyer, Robert Pilot, Jean Paul Riopelle and Robert Bateman.

Source: The Toronto Star