AKEEAKTASHUK (1898-1954) m., INUKJUAK (PORT HARRISON)
Standing Hunter, c. 1950-51
stone and ivory, 5.75 x 3.25 x 2 in (14.6 x 8.3 x 5.1 cm) without base
Estimate: $5,000 — $8,000
Canadian Handicrafts Guild, Toronto;
Acquired from the above by the distinguished Canadian sculptor David Franklin Marshall, Vancouver in the early 1950s;
by descent to his widow Carel Marshall;
Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver;
Private Collection, Toronto.
Akeeaktashuk often used ivory as a secondary carving material, using it to fashion tools and weapons, small adornments such as parka toggles, and facial features such as eyes and teeth both in human and animal subjects. We are not aware of published examples of his work that incorporate ivory faces and hands, but there is intriguing evidence that the artist carved even complete animal figures out of ivory . There is, however, a published small bone carving of a human face and two bear’s heads by the artist, from 1952, published in the Guild of Crafts catalogue . There are also examples of the artist insetting faces of contrasting stone colour .
Importantly, the figure itself perfectly matches the scale, the overall proportions, the look of the weapons, and stance of an Akeeaktashuk hunter of the period – that slight tilt of the body and backward tilt of the arm as the hunter leans into the thrust of the harpoon – not to mention the general feeling of confidence and clarity that his hunting figures convey.
1. Darlene Coward Wight quotes a 1955 article in "The Montrealer" in Early Masters p. 30. The author Wanda Tolboom (who had lived at HBC posts in Nunavik between 1946 and 1951 and met Akeeaktashuk), wrote that Akeeaktashuk carved stone and ivory animal figures that he would give away to children.
2. Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, The Permanent Collection (Montreal: CGCQ, 1980) cat. 58.
3. The Match Holder with Bear and Human Heads in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters (WAG, 2006), p. 33.
References: Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, The Permanent Collection: Inuit Arts and Craftsc. 1900-1980 (Montreal: CGCQ, 1980) illustrates several early works by Akeeaktashuk: cats. 29, 30, 58, 71. See the section on Akeeaktashuk in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (WAG: 2006), pp. 28-37. See also Gerald McMaster, ed., Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection (Toronto: AGO, 2010), p. 69; Walker’s Auctions, Nov. 2011, Lot 33; and Waddington’s Auctions, Nov. 2007, Lot 210.