Paintings by Maud Lewis & Joe Norris to be offered by Miller & Miller Auctions

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, May 27, 2024

Paintings by Maud Lewis & Joe Norris to be offered by Miller & Miller Auctions
Strong and vibrant early 1960s mixed media on pulpboard (beaver board) by Maud Lewis (Nova Scotia, 1901–1970), titled Gulls at Harbour, signed “Lewis” lower right (CA$36,580).

NEW HAMBURG, ON.- Records were broken and estimates were surpassed in two days of auctions held February 10th (Canadiana) and 11th (Canadian Folk Art) by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. Heading the list of top performers was the renowned Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis (1901-1970), whose paintings Black and White Cat and Gulls at Harbour gaveled for $50,150 and $36,580, respectively.

All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.

“We had a great Canadiana sale on February 10th with strong objects in a wide variety of categories,” said Peter Baker, auction advisor for the sale. “Collectors and dealers were able to acquire some unique and rare items but there are always surprises, both high and low, which kept the buyers on their toes. The two paintings by Maud Lewis reflected high interest in her works.”

Baker added, “The miniature redware pieces, including a Brownscombe jug, attracted a lot of attention. Some exceptional hooked rugs were offered, with a Grenfell Mission ‘Shadows’ being the top performer bringing $4,750 and many other opportunities for some good buys. Other Canadian art included Inuit sculpture and some early stonecut prints that sold above estimates.”

The runner-up top lot on February 10th was a spectacular 18th century Quebec armoire, which gaveled for $27,140. It had a high double-paneled frieze and bold cabriole feet and boasted a warm pine patina and robust construction. It was pictured in The Early Furniture of French Canada (Jean Palardy). The doors and sides had panels in a transitional Louis XIV/XV style.

A masterful Nova Scotia foot stool in the Lunenburg Germanic tradition with original red/green paint and exuberant geometric carving blew past its $1,000-$1,500 estimate by more than 200 percent to finish at $24,780. The skirt was deeply shaped with a carved star flanked by two wings, while the top had notched corners and a large carved diamond with a rosette positioned at the center.

A rare stoneware picture frame made by John Marx (Brantford, Ontario, circa 1860s-1890s), an intricate and beautiful piece that was signed on the reverse and boasted a lovely lattice design and dark glaze, bested its estimate of $1,800-$2,500 by more than 200 percent to achieve $21,240. The aforementioned Grenfell Missions “Shadows” rug measured 33 ½ inches by 45 ½ inches.

“Rounding out the February 10th sale was a large collection of carved and inlaid boxes with several 18th century examples selling well along with rarities such as a Baldwin Hill & Company fur trade dag knife bringing $8,260,” Baker pointed out. The circa 1856-1860 knife, 14 inches in length, had a double-edged steel blade and the original wooden handle affixed with brass rivets.

The February 11th Canadian Folk Art auction was no less impressive, with Maud Lewis’s Gulls at Harbour leading the way, followed by a coastal village with lighthouse painting by another acclaimed Nova Scotia artist, Joe Norris (1924-1996). The vibrant enamel on wood panel was housed in its original flower frame as created by Norris, which sold for $30,680, considerably more than estimate and a new auction record for the artist.

“We had fierce bidding and competitive spirit on an international level,” said Sandra May, an art advisor for the sale. “Exceptional results were posted for East Coast masters like Maud Lewis, Joe Norris and Joe Sleep, and it was good to see strong results for Cyril Hirtle, who’s finally seeing the results he deserves. His painting in the sale sold for over 400 percent of the low estimate.”

The painting by Joe Sleep (1914-1978) was a mixed media on canvas of a cat, horsehead and sun. The 46 ½ inch by 25 ¼ inch work was signed at lower front center and fetched $7,080. Work by Sleep can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History.

An oil on canvas by yet another Canadian artist, Jan Gerrit Wyers (1888-1973), of a farmstead in winter with log house, shed and barn, artist signed, commanded $8,850, way over estimate and a new auction record for the artist. Also, a circa 1970 softwood sculpture by Edmond Chatigny (Quebec, 1895-1985), a 3-tiered work with an owl at the top, four small birds in the middle and six birds and a frog at the bottom, realized $7,080.

“Collectors are diversified and active in the market for folk and outsider art,” Sandra May said. “This auction was a testimonial to people of true passion for whom art is an investment. Many people invested time in learning, researching, hunting and searching to cultivate a strong thesis to their purchases and they were rewarded with great additions to their collections of fine folk art.”

May added, “There was an insurgence of new collectors to the folk art scene which was fantastic, and given the new publication coming out that was mentioned in the Miller Times, I'm sure we will continue to see this trend growing. Miller & Miller continues to bring in great works of importance and distinction, giving all collectors something to look forward to in future auctions.”

The February 10th Canadiana auction featured the Richardson, Blevins, Morawetz & Molson Foundation collections and contained 331 lots of Canadiana, pottery, stoneware, textiles, art and Canadiana furniture. The nearly 500 registered bidders placed a total of 7,405 online bids. 100% of lots were sold; 56 percent of the top 50 lots exceeded estimates. The sale grossed $430,847.50.

The February 11th Canadian Folk Art auction showcased works from the Maritime Provinces, Ontario and Quebec and contained 215 lots of folk art, art, Canadiana and decoys. The 292 registered bidders combined to place a total of 4,853 online bids. 99 percent of lots were sold, while 66 percent of the top 50 lots exceeded estimates. The auction overall grossed $432,322.50.

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