Shaman Seal Transformation stone, 12 3/4 x 9 x 14 in (32.4 x 22.9 x 35.6 cm)
ESTIMATE: $2,000 — $3,000
New Price: $1,600
At first glance this sculpture looks like a portrayal of Sedna, but it is more likely a depiction of shamanic transformation. The sturdy figure’s pose is rather unusual and quite moving. The large, expressive, and beautifully carved face gazes heavenward as if beseeching the spirits. We have a hunch that this sculpture was carved by Tayaraq Tunnillie, whom we consider to be one of the most talented Cape Dorset carvers during the 1970s.
Provenance Ex. Coll. Mr. Paul Duval, Toronto.
Mr. Paul Duval was a distinguished art critic, journalist, author, and friend of the Canadian art community. Recognized as an authority in Canadian art, Mr. Duval wrote publications on many of Canada's foremost artists, including,The Tangled Garden, the Art of J. E. H. MacDonald (1978), A. J. Casson, His Life & Works: A Tribute (1980), and Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings (2011). In addition to his writings on the Group of Seven, Mr. Duval championed lesser known artists, such as Ken Danby and Helen McNicoll and brought to them national recognition.
Robert and Signe McMichael purchased Lawren Harris's Montreal River at the suggestion of Mr. Duval. When the couple transformed their private residence into a public gallery in 1966, Mr. Duval wrote their first exhibition catalogue. As the years passed, Mr. Duval would continue to contribute to the McMichael's publications, including writings on the Inuit and First Nations artists and artworks in the collection.
A savvy and astute collector in his own right, in the 1970s, Mr. Duval loaned two works from his collection to the exhibition Sculpture/Inuit: Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic, which travelled throughout North America before heading to Russia and Europe. In 1972/3, Mr. Duval penned the introduction for the Toronto Dominion Bank's travelling exhibition of their Inuit art collection. For his contribution to this publication, Mr. Duval wrote, "The Eskimos [sic] of Canada have created compelling sculptures for more than 2,000 years [...] It was not until the past quarter of a century that the almost miraculous flowering of Canadian Eskimo [sic] art as we know it today occurred."
This kind of accessible, insightful language was a hallmark of Mr. Duval's writing. Always coming out with beautiful phrases that would stop you in your tracks.