Masterpieces by Emily Carr, Paul Kane, Tom Thomson expected to fetch upwards of $8M at Cowley Abbott Auction

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Masterpieces by Emily Carr, Paul Kane, Tom Thomson expected to fetch upwards of $8M at Cowley Abbott Auction
Tom Thomson - Petawawa Gorges



TORONTO.- One of Canada’s preeminent, largest and most exhibited private collections of historical Canadian art will go under the hammer in a special series of three landmark live auction events held by Cowley Abbott. Expertly curated over a period of 60 years, the collection of rare and remarkable artworks features prime example, museum quality paintings, drawings and sculptures by Canada’s most celebrated historical artists including an Emily Carr masterwork (The Totem of the Bear and the Moon, 1912, auction estimate: $2 million – $3 million), that could challenge the current artist record at auction, and an extraordinarily rare and stunning Paul Kane canvas (Ojibwa Camp in the Spider Islands, c. 1845,auction estimate: $900,000 – $1.2 Million), the first canvas by the painter to debut at auction in almost 20 years.

The first of the three marquee sales is expected to total $8 million to $12 million and comprises over 50 artworks by James Wilson Morrice, Cornelius Krieghoff, Paul Peel, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, David Milne and many others, most of which are making their auction debut. Despite never appearing on the market before, the artworks are extremely well-known to the public. The owners are generous benefactors for the arts, with the majority of the works of art having been exhibited in major gallery shows across Canada and internationally (some pieces extensively) over the past 50 years and many are also reproduced in books devoted to the individual artists.

Before hitting the auction block, the artworks included in the sale will be displayed in a free public exhibition, The Definitive Canadian Private Collection, at the Cowley Abbott Gallery, 326 Dundas Street West, across the street from the Art Gallery of Ontario, free for the public to view from October 28th until November 30 (previews are by appointment only before October 28th).

“This celebrated collection was passionately assembled and carefully cultivated with the same care and thoughtfulness as a major gallery. As a result, it is a first-class museum quality collection with every piece serving as an excellent representation of the artist’s best work,” said Rob Cowley, President and Co-Founder of Cowley Abbott.

“The sale of such a storied collection as this one is an extremely rare event. We are thrilled to be offering this vast representation of Canadian art to the auction market and to provide an incredible opportunity for art lovers to view these exceptional and rare artworks at our gallery,” shares Lydia Abbott, Vice-President and Co-Founder of Cowley Abbott.

The live auction, Artwork from An Important Private Collection (Part One), part of a two-session auction evening, takes place on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m. at the Globe and Mail Centre, 351 King St. East, Toronto, and will also be live-streamed online at cowleyabbott.ca allowing for simultaneous in-person, telephone and absentee and real-time online bidding – enabling prospective buyers to participate from anywhere in the world. The first session of artwork from various collections will take place at 4 p.m. The final two sessions from the private collection, made up of more than 100 additional exemplary works, will take place in 2023.

Highlights from the sale include:

Emily Carr
The Totem of the Bear and the Moon (1912)
Auction Estimate: $2 Million - $3 Million


Available for the first time at auction, this rare Carr canvas was once owned by Canadian ethnographer Marius Barbeau and has been included in important exhibitions for more than a century.

Could challenge the current auction record for a work by Carr ($3.393 Million).

Paul Kane
Ojibwa Camp in the Spider Islands (c. 1845)
Auction Estimate: $900,000 – $1.2 Million


The first canvas by Paul Kane to debut at auction in almost 20 years, this rare and important work was held in the family of the artist for more than 130 years. The current owners acquired the painting in 1980, directly from the family of Paul Kane, now available for the first time for public sale.

Tom Thomson
Petawawa Gorges (1916)
Auction Estimate: $1 Million - $1.5 Million


Available for the first time for public sale, this painting was part of Tom Thomson’s family’s collection for over fifty years before being acquired by the present owners in 1972. Other versions of this composition are in major public collections across Canada and the painting was featured on the cover of the 2015 book “Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven”.




Lawren Harris (Group of Seven)
North Shore, Lake Superior (c. 1923/24)
Auction Estimate: $300,000 – 500,000


Making its debut at auction, this artwork by Harris has been in the owner’s collection since 1966. The painting is the study for a canvs in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Tom Thomson
Evening, Pine Island (1914)
Auction Estimate: $900,000 – $1.2 Million


A rare sketch for a known canvas by the iconic painter, the associated larger painting to this sketch is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. The painting has been exhibited extensively, with appearances in exhibitions across Canada, as well as the United Kingdon, Norway and the Netherlands. The painting makes its auction debut with Cowley Abbott on December 1st.

James Wilson Morrice
Snow, Canada (c. 1905)
Auction Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000


A rare Canadian canvas by the internationally celebrated artist, the painting makes its auction debut this fall following more than a century of exhibition history, including the artist’s memorial exhibition in 1925 at the Art Association of Montreal.

Alexander Young Jackson (Group of Seven) Tadenac, November (c. 1924)
Auction Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000


Included in one of the first exhibitions of the Group of Seven in 1922, the painting has been exhibited regularly over the last century, available for public sale for the first time in more than 35 years.

Cowley Abbott’s extensive fall auction schedule also includes their annual Fall Live Auction of Important Canadian Art, also on December 1 (details to be announced later this season), and an online auction of Atlantic Canada Art, October 11- 25, 2022, offering charismatic and striking scenes by the East Coast’s most beloved artists including Maud Lewis, David Blackwood and Alex Colville. Cowley Abbott will donate 10 percent of their Buyer’s Premium from the sale to the Canadian Red Cross to support recovery efforts in the Maritimes following the devasting damage caused by Hurricane Fiona.










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