Algoma Sketch 48, a rare preparatory oil sketch by Lawren Harris debuted on the auction block at Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s inaugural live auction event tonight in Toronto, fetching $977,500 (significantly above its pre-estimate of $400,000 – $600,000; all prices includes a 15 per cent buyer’s premium, the lowest in the industry). The sale set the record for the highest-selling Algoma sketch by the artist at auction, tripling a previous Harris sketch, Herbert Lake Algoma, which sold for $304,000 in 2013.
Harris painted Algoma Sketch 48 in 1919/1920 during the time when the Group of Seven officially formed as an association of painters. Consignor acquired the exceptional oil sketch from a private seller halfway across the globe in Australia, whose family originally acquired the work from the Toronto-based Mellors-Laing Galleries in 1940.
“The value of this particular Harris piece stems from its rarity as an unknown preparatory work for four of the artist’s well-known large canvases,” said Consignor’s Managing Director Lydia Abbott. “That, combined with an increased interest in Harris’s artwork, made for a truly exceptional centerpiece for our Spring Auction of Important Canadian Art.”
Two other Harris works also fared well at the auction: House, Toronto sold for $115,000 and Shacks sold for $103,500. Additional highlights include:
- Jack Bush, Complete Portfolio of Five Prints – $57,500 (more than triple its pre-sale estimate of $15,000 – $20,000)
- Frank Hans Johnston, A Rocky Corner – $48,300
- A.J. Casson, Jackknife Bay – $34,500
- William Kurelek, Stop Thief! – $34,500 (more than double its pre-sale estimate of $14,000 – $18,000)
“We are thrilled with the performance of our first-ever live auction”, said Rob Cowley, President of Consignor. “The success of the auction not only cements a new tradition for Consignor but also establishes Consignor’s role among Canada’s most notable art auction houses.”
Since its inception in 2013, Consignor’s auctions have included headline-grabbing works such as a rare 100-year-old Tom Thomson portrait (Daydreaming, sold for $172,500) and an undiscovered William Kurelek (Ukrainian Proverb, sold for $41,400). Consignor’s offering of Jack Bush’s Summer Lake broke online auction records in May 2014 for the most expensive painting by a Canadian artist to be sold in an online auction ($310,500), and its June 2014 auction saw eight artists’ records broken.