Published: February 22, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Miller & Miller Auctions
NEW HAMBURG, ONTARIO, CANADA – Fine art dominated the day when Miller & Miller Auctions sold Canadiana and Folk Art – the second part of the Marty Osler Collection on Saturday, February 12. All of the 376 lots were offered without reserve and all sold, conferring “white glove” status; the sale achieved more than $326,000.
“There was enthusiasm for sure, for the right things,” Ethan Miller said by phone after the sale. “The fine art and folk art blew our minds.” He noted that the Canadian art was largely courted by Canadian buyers. “There’s a strong following for it. It’s part of the Canadian identity. With much of the art we sold, it boils down to the fact that every artist has a strong story to back the work. That was a common thread through the sale.”
Fine art, in either two or three dimensions, realized nine of the top ten prices in the sale, including the sale’s top lot. A private collector in Canada paid $37,060 for Alexander Young Jackson’s (Canadian, 1882-1974) “St Lawrence South Shore Village.” Jackson was a founding member of Canada’s “Group of Seven” and had been previously handled by two galleries who were critical for disseminating and increasing the group’s prominence.
Other works with early gallery labels included “Fishing Village” by Joe Norris (Nova Scotia, 1925-1996). The 17-by-21¼-inch oil on board landscape in a bold palette had passed through both Zwicker Gallery in Halifax as well as the Yarlow/Salzman gallery in Toronto. It brought $10,192, about six times its high estimate. Marc-Aurele Fortin’s (Quebec, 1888-1970) local watercolor of a Quebec Village, measuring 10 by 12 inches, more than doubled expectations and found a new home at $7,412. It had provenance to the Michel Bigué Art Gallery.
An early member of the “Group of Seven” was Franz Johnson (1888-1949), whose “The Battlement, Lake of the Woods” sold for $20,383, the second highest price in the sale. The impressionistic style of the oil on board was characteristic of his earlier work, which eventually became more realistic in its representation.
Four sculptural painted works by Canadian Outsider artist Edmond Chatigny (1895-1992) were offered in the sale, with his “Farm Scene” bringing the most, at $12,034. The circa 1970 work, which measured 19½-by-30-by-16-inches, featured his characteristic green, red and brown spatter on a white ground. His other works in the sale all sold, with a bird sculpture with multiple figures making $6,480; a single bird flew past expectations to land at $2,545; and “Elephant” brought up the rear, at $1,389.
Another sculptural work was Ernest Joly’s 36-by-57-inch ship whirligig, which was described as “monumental” and which bidders spun to $6,023. Not only had it been illustrated outside the Joly’s home in Les Patenteux du Quebec (page 19), but it had been in the personal collection of Phil and Jeanine Ross.
Furniture was a category that was softer than Ethan Miller would have liked, but he acknowledged that much of the best furniture had been sold when the firm offered Part I of Osler’s collection on April 17, 2021. The highest price realized for a piece of furniture was $4,397 for a one-piece Adam-style Orono, Ontario, corner cupboard that retained its original yellow ochre surface with a blue-painted interior. Despite having provenance to the Burgess estate near Orono and the Rogerson collection, it sold below expectations. A Saskatchewan Ukranian painted cupboard sold more modestly but within expectations, for $2,545.
Miller & Miller’s next sale will take place March 22, when the firm offers, to quote Ethan Miller, “all things mechanical.”
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium and have been converted into US dollars.
For additional information, 519-662-4800, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.millerandmillerauctions.com.
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