Six original oil on board paintings by the renowned Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970), plus a watercolor and pen on paper by Ms. Lewis, sold for a combined $198,830 in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held on February 11th. 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 pre-sale 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. This one was likely painted in 1966. The 12 inch by 12 ½ inch (sight, less frame) painting was artist signed.
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, titled Harbour 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, over time, 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 and obscurity, but died in poverty, despite enjoying national fame. She overcame severe physical challenges to create an artistic style uniquely hers.
Ms. Lewis’s style and inspiration were such that she sparked a boom in folk art in her home province of Nova Scotia. Though she rarely left her tiny house, her 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.
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 eleven paintings by the artist sailed past their high estimates to bring a combined $559,510. The top lot was Winter Sleigh Ride (est. $20,000-$25,000); it finished at $100,300. Demand for her work just keeps climbing.
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