Sale of Canadian Art on 30th November made a total of CAD $1,046,670 with 86.5% sold by value.
Top picture in the sale was Lot 223, a James Wilson Morrice (1865-1924) titled `On the March in France, circa 1918. It stormed past its pre-sale estimate of CAD $80,000 -120,000 to make CAD$204,000.
The Canadian landscape painter JW Morrice was the inspiration behind the alcoholic poet Cronshaw in Somerset Maughams Of Human Bondage. Morrice is widely considered to be the first great Canadian painter, if also an archetype for the booze-drenched bohemians of the Belle Époque.
A man of independent means, he trained as a lawyer in Montreal before leaving Canada for Paris. There he spent the better part of his working life and came into association with the likes of Maugham, Matisse, Gauguin and Clive Bell. Despite briefly abandoning France at the outbreak of hostilities, Morrice was commissioned by Lord Beaverbrook to capture scenes of the Great War for the House of Commons in Ottawa.
In 1918 he travelled to numerous sites in France in order to make sketches for this commission, one of which is this preparatory study that would eventually be realised as the canvas titled Canadian Troops at the Front, now in the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.
The sale attracted global interest, attested to by the substantial number of bids from overseas. These confirm the view that the art market is in fine health despite the recent turbulence in the financial sector. In particular Silver and Jewelry performed strongly.
Speaking after the sale, Jack. Kerr - Wilson, President of Bonhams Canada said: Against a backdrop of the worst recession since the 1920s, Canadian Art has once again demonstrated its lasting appeal. There was huge interest and some very strong prices with one or two new world records achieved for Canadian artists.