Toronto art auction sets record as private collection fetches $36.6M

Toronto art auction sets record as private collection fetches $36.6M

Nine paintings which each sold for more than $1 million have helped set a record for the highest-grossing single private collection of Canadian art to ever sell at auction.

Auctioneers Cowley Abbott said in a press release Thursday that the collection, which included 29 artists, brought in $36.6 million over several Toronto auctions which started in fall 2022 and ended Wednesday night.

“Expertly curated over 60 years, the collection was rich in rare, prime example and museum-quality paintings, drawings and sculptures by Canada’s most celebrated historical artists, including the members of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, Cornelius Krieghoff, Helen McNicoll, Clarence Gagnon and Paul Peel, to name a few,” the auctioneers said.

Paintings by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, Helen McNicoll, and Clarence Gagnon sold for more than expected.

The last auction Wednesday night at Toronto at the Globe and Mail Centre included “a bidding frenzy” which set records for eight artists.

Group of Seven artist Frederick H. Varley’s Sun and Wind, Georgian Bay, 1916 or 1920 brought in a record-breaking $984,000, more than 10 times the high-end, pre-auction estimate of $90,000.

Clarence Gagnon’s large-scale canvas Ice Harvest, Quebec, 1935, fetched the same price, while Impressionist painter Helen McNicoll’s The Chintz Sofa,circa 1912, sold for $888,000.

But Cowley Abbott said “the jewel of the collection” was a 1912 painting by Emily Carr, The Totem of the Bear and the Moon, which sold for $3.12 million.

Tom Thomson

Other notable sales included Tom Thomson’s Petawawa Gorges (1916), which sold for $2.22, while Lawren Harris’ Quiet Lake (Northern Painting 12), circa 1926-1928 sold for $2.16 million.

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