sealskin stencil (matrix), irregular: 9 x 17 in (22.9 x 43.2 cm).
ESTIMATE: $2,500 — $3,500
PRICE REALIZED: $12,000
*The Imperial Oil Review (Oct. 1960) identified the artist and printmaker as Josephie Pootoogook (1887-1958) and his grandson Ikhalook, and the cover image shows their signature chops. However the printmaker Joanassie Salamonie suggested in 1990 that the image was drawn by James Houston, and cut and printed by himself. James Houston confirmed this in May 1996, telling Sandra Barz that the image was inspired by the styles of Pootoogook and Niviaqsi .
Ex. Collection of Mr. Gerald Moses;
Bequest to Ms. Barbara Mercer, Toronto;
Estate of the above.
The stencil matrix itself is illustrated in The Imperial Oil Review, October 1960 (Vol. 44, No. 5), inside front cover. The print image is featured on the front cover.
Only two proof prints derived from this Hunter with Harpoon stencil are known to us; we do not know if any additional proofs were printed.
Hunter with Harpoon shows remnants of ink where the printmaker has pounced the pigment through the stencil opening. The teal and black ink have, over the course of some six decades, faded and been absorbed by the skin; it is also possible that some attempt was made to remove the inks. Interestingly, both the matrix and the print itself indicate that the entire image was first stencilled in teal, with the dark areas then over-stencilled in black. As with the other examples, the image dimensions of the Hunter with Harpoon proof print corresponds exactly with the present skin matrix. Interestingly, the printed stencil of Hunter with Harpoon has a faint, and likely later, inclusion of a whip in the hunter's left hand.
1. Information from Sandra Barz, Inuit Artists' Print Database, New York City. We think it's more likely that the image is inspired by Niviaqsi's style than by Pootoogook's. Despite Houston's admission, we would not be surprised if the stencil is some day found to be based on an actual drawing by Niviaqsi.
References: The print image derived from this sealskin stencil is illustrated on the front cover of The Imperial Oil Review, October 1960 (Vol. 44, No. 5), close in size to the matrix itself. For two stylistically similar print images by Niviaqsi, see Man Hunting at Seal Hole in Ice from 1959 (#11) illustrated in Christine Lalonde and Leslie Boyd Ryan, Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset 1959-2009 (Ottawa: NGC, 2009), cat. 26; and The Archer from 1960 (#45) illustrated in the 1960 Cape Dorset print catalogue.