NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Six original paintings by the renowned Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970), plus a watercolor and pen on paper by Lewis, sold for a combined $198,830 in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held on February 11. Nearly 300 lots in a wide array of categories came up for bid. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.
As expected, the Maud Lewis painting titled Three Black Cats was the group’s top achiever. It bested the $25,000-$30,000 estimate and then some by bringing $44,250. It was also the auction’s top lot. The work was a serial image only found in the mid-to-late 1960s. The example in the sale was likely painted in 1966.
The other oil on boards included Spring Scene ($35,400); Horse Pulling Logs ($24,780); Sandy Cove Harbour Scene ($25,960); Oxen in Winter ($23,600); and Covered Bridge ($25,960). The watercolor and pen on paper harbor scene doubled as a handwritten letter, folded in quarters into a card and addressed to Eva Gray, a teacher, cousin and friend. It brought $18,880.
Maud Lewis has become one of Canada’s most renowned artists, the subject of numerous monographs, novels, plays, documentaries and even a feature film. She was born into relative comfort but died in poverty, despite enjoying national fame. She overcame severe physical challenges to create an artistic style uniquely hers.
Lewis’s style and inspiration were such that she sparked a boom in folk art in her home province of Nova Scotia. Though she seldom left her tiny house, her works have traveled around the world, and in the decades since her death, she has become an iconic figure, a symbol of Nova Scotia, and a beloved character in the popular imagination.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is no stranger to Maud Lewis. Her work has been featured in several past sales, including one held in October 2022 in which 11 paintings by the artist sailed past their high estimates to bring a combined $559,510. The top lot was Winter Sleigh Ride; estimated at $20,000-$25,000, it finished at $100,300. Demand for her work just keeps climbing.
Another Nova Scotia folk artist, Joe Norris (1924-1996), also did well in the auction, as four of his paintings combined for a total of $49,560. The top seller was a circa-1980 oil on canvas titled The Lighthouse and Three Schooners, a large depiction of a fishing village including lobster boats and fishermen. It earned $22,420.
The other works by Norris were a powerful enamel on board from 1991 titled Schooner Taking Shelter from the Storm ($10,030); a simple and colorful enamel on board from 1987 titled Deer at the Salt Water Pond ($9,440); and a striking Lower Prospect (Nova Scotia) enamel on board from 1970 titled Six Gulls ($7,670). All exceeded their estimates.
“There is strong demand for paintings from the masters of Canadian folk art and this continues to be reflected by the prices realized by Maud Lewis, Joe Norris and Joseph Sleep,” said Ben Lennox of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “It’s exciting to witness our Canadian material folk heritage soar. Collectors remain hungry to add the best from these important collections.”
Lennox added, “These collections have taken decades to accumulate, and being able to bid on the cream of these collections isn’t lost on collectors. That’s reflective of the prices realized.”
To consign a single piece, an estate or a collection, call Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. at 519-573-3710, or email email@example.com. To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the firm’s upcoming events, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.
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