Four Oil Paintings by Canadian Folk Artist Maud Lewis Brings $167,560
New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada, October 30, 2023 — Four original oil paintings by the renowned Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970) sold for a combined $167,560, and an extremely rare cobalt-washed stoneware flask from the 1850s by William Collinson finished at $15,340 in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online-only Canadiana & Historic Objects auction held on October 7th.
All prices quoted in this report are in Canadian dollars.
The four paintings by Ms. Lewis included The Three Black Cats ($47,200); Two Deer ($44,250); Oxen in Winter ($38,350); and Covered Bridge in Winter ($37,760). The first two were serial images found only in the 1960s; Oxen in Winter spanned two decades; Covered Bridge in Winter was painted toward the end of Ms. Lewis’s rich life. All four paintings were signed and framed.
Maud Lewis lived most of her life in poverty in a small house in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. She achieved national recognition in 1964 and 1965 for her cheerful paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers, which offer a nostalgic and optimistic vision of her native province. Several books, plays and films have been produced about her. She’s one of Canada’s most celebrated folk artists.
The important cobalt-washed flask with incised work on both panels by English-born Canadian artisan William Collinson (1830-1890) was a wonderful example of marked and decorated orated stoneware flasks. It featured four beautiful and well-executed sunflowers on one side. The reverse had been incised in a cursive script, “Wm. Collinson Saint Thomas Canada West”.
The 355-lot auction, which grossed $424,036, featured a well-rounded offering of fresh-to-the-market Canadiana, folk art, pottery, textiles and more from some of the best collections in the country, with material dating from the 19th to the 20th centuries. Canadian art ranged from the traditional work of J.J. Kenyon and Homer Watson to the outstanding folk art of Maud Lewis.
“This multi-consignor sale afforded us the opportunity to bring the cream of the crop across a vast array of collecting categories that fall into the fairly broad banner of Canadiana & Historic Objects,” said Ben Lennox, an associate at Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Astute buyers were able to hone in on masterpieces such as the Mohawk cradle board, the William Soper inlaid chest of drawers, the antler-formed chair and, of course, the Collinson St. Thomas stoneware flask.”
Mr. Lennox added, “As such, aggressive bidders drove these items to strong prices. These are pieces, that outside of museums, are only found in the most serious of collections. We were honored to be able to offer them up to the open market. With 70 percent of our top 50 lots exceeding estimates, this continues to highlight the feverish demand for the best. Collectors aren’t anxious to walk away from the opportunity to add unique pieces to their collections.”
Following are additional highlights from the online-only auction, which attracted 469 registered bidders who combined to place 6,753 bids. Of the 355 total lots, 99 percent were sold and 70 percent of the top 50 lots exceeded estimate. Online bidding was via LiveAuctioneers.com and the Miller & Miller website. All prices quoted are inclusive of an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
A scarce, circa 1880-1900 left-facing beaver pint fruit jar attributed to the Sydenham Glass Factory in Wallaceburg, Ontario, dark amber in color and 5 ¼ inches tall from base to lip, with a zinc lid, changed hands for $11,800. Also, a painted softwood stick-up model flying snow goose blue phase hunting decoy used on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, 5 ¼ inches tall but with an impressive 28-inch wingspan, boasting an untouched original paint surface, brought $8,850.
An unusual, circa 1900 Canadian armchair constructed from three or more sets of moose antlers plus leather and iron, with a deep upholstered seat and back with a pointed arch, the antlers forming the legs, arms, and wings of the back, rose to $7,080. Also, a circa 1890 Northeastern North America Mohawk cradle board, adorned with carved and painted floral decoration on the reverse side and flower and bird carvings with lovely color throughout, finished at $5,310.
A circa 1895-1907 Canadian cream-glazed earthenware ewer and basin with floral motifs on both pieces, attributed to the Owen Sound Pottery Company of Horning & Brownscombe in Ontario, 11 ½ inches tall, commanded $4,720; while a beautifully formed and decorated 4-gallon A. Livingston, Wine & Spirit Merchant salt-glazed stoneware jug, attributed to Samuel Skinner of Picton Pottery (Ontario), 4 inches tall, with elaborate cobalt blue bird decoration, hit $5,605.
Rounding out just some of the day’s top performers was a formal portrait of the French Viscount Louis Charles de la Motte Ango (1754-1794), with the subject shown sitting and resting his right arm on a table painted in brown. He’s dressed in court satin and brocades. The portrait, unsigned, measured 31 ¼ inches by 24 ¾ inches (canvas, minus frame) and ended up gaveling for $5,310.
Miller & Miller Auctions has back-to-back sales planned for Friday, October 27th (Advertising & Americana) and Saturday, October 28th (Advertising, Petroliana & Coin-Op). Both are online. Then, on Friday, November 17th, the firm will hold a Luxury Watches auction, also online.
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and their upcoming auctions, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.