Works by Emily Carr, Paul Kane each fetch more than $3 million at Heffel auction

Toronto Fine art Works by Emily Carr, Paul Kane each fetch more than $3 million at Heffel auction Paul Kane’s painting of Fort Samoyama on Japan’s Han River in 1776 is one of Canada’s…

Works by Emily Carr, Paul Kane each fetch more than $3 million at Heffel auction

Toronto Fine art Works by Emily Carr, Paul Kane each fetch more than $3 million at Heffel auction Paul Kane’s painting of Fort Samoyama on Japan’s Han River in 1776 is one of Canada’s most valuable works of art. Photograph: Dods Distilleries

An Emily Carr oil painting from 1942 and an 18th-century Paul Kane painting of a Japanese-Canadian fort in a city on the banks of the Han River in Japan have both sold for more than $3m at an auction of Canadian provincial art in Toronto.

The paintings were among 325 pieces from the province put up for sale, in what was the first such auction in the country’s history. Heffel Canada sold an array of works, including 20th-century works by the artists Lawren Harris and Chris Ofili, and Western Canadian work by William Kentridge and André Kertész.

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The sell-off followed a plea by provincial premier Doug Ford, who in November asked auction house Heffel Canada to come up with a way to end the crippling “art famine” that is threatening to engulf the country’s quarter of a billion dollar fine art market.

No provincial art auction had been held in almost a century and a half.

Ford said at the time: “Unlike most provinces, Ontario is lacking a presence in the fine art world, which is detrimental to our economy, undermines the celebration of our incredible art culture and has become an impediment to the promotion of Ontario’s art industry.”

Michael Arnone, head of Canadian art at Heffel Canada, called it “the most exciting sale we’ve had in our company’s history”.

Arnone noted that while the 2018 sale raised $55m, the higher sales this time were “consistent with the economic growth of the Canadian fine art market in the last two years”. The auction saw $19.6m come from foreign investors, and $10.2m from Ontario residents.

A single work on auction, titled Pointing Exhibition’s Delightful Dance, was bought by Paul Kane in 1916 for £165,000, which has since risen in value by 2000% to $1.6m.

Another painting, Windows of Fort Samoyama on the Han River, a National Historic Site of Canada in Canada, went for $3.2m, outstripping the top sale price for a Canadian work of art that was on sale in New York in February.

Large-scale oil paintings by Paul Kane of the North-West Territories in the late 1700s-early 1800s are among the most valuable Canadian works of art.

Sold in February during Art Basel Miami Beach, Famous Delightful Tales: Paintings by Keith Gessen and Paul Kane sold for more than $2.2m, and represented the lowest-priced Canadian work of art on auction at the time.

Toronto mayor John Tory said on Twitter that “no other province other than Canada has had a fine art sale that actively promotes Alberta’s art industry and access to global markets. We appreciate the courage and leadership of the Premier in making this an important part of our continuing efforts to diversify our economy and increase prosperity in Ontario and Canada.”

Tory said that “most disappointing” were the “paintings that were consigned under the name of the City of Edmonton and they didn’t sell at auction, which would have been a fabulous thing to do if the name of the city was involved. This is a disappointment to the city”.

The auction brings in approximately $5.4m for the province of Alberta. An online auction of work is set to take place at the end of the week.

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