Canada – Eleven original paintings by the acclaimed Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1980) sold for a combined $559,510 in an online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held October 8th by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., based in New Hamburg, Ontario. Overall, 344 lots came up for bid in the auction, which grossed a robust $871,695.
All figures quoted in this report are in Canadian dollars.
Of the eleven Maud Lewis paintings in the auction, Winter Sleigh Ride was an expected top earner, with a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$25,000. It ended up selling for $100,300. The signed, circa 1955, 9 inch by 11 inch mixed media on beaverboard was a delightful and early Christmas season scene, similar to a later image used for a series of Canadian postage stamps.
Maud Lewis was 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 and obscurity, and died in poverty, though enjoying national fame. She overcame severe physical challenges to create a unique artistic style, and sparked a boom in folk art in her home province.
Though she rarely left her tiny house, Lewis’s works have travelled 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. She painted many different vehicles that were part of her life and were the inspirations for many of her subjects. Black was her color of choice.
Fellow Canadian artist John H. Kinnear corresponded with Ms. Lewis from the time she became famous, in the 1960s, until her death, acting as her de facto agent. Kinnear would send her Masonite boards, brushes and requested paints. Maud would send the finished paintings for Kinnear to sell; he would send the proceeds to her home in Marshalltown.
“The simplicity and honesty of Canadian folk art by Maud Lewis, Joe Sleep and Joe Norris crushed high expectations,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Formal British underperformed, but the bright and optimistic works by the above mentioned surprised us. This sale was a compilation of three great collections and the highlights in each performed well. What it proved to us is that collectors are willing to pay for documented pieces with firm provenance.”
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the firm’s slate of upcoming auction events, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com. Updates are posted frequently.