We are pleased to announce that our upcoming live auction of Inuit & First Nations Art will be held on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 at 7:00 PM (ET) at A.H. Wilkens Auctions & Appraisals (One William Morgan Drive, Toronto).
We at First Arts are very proud of this collection and invite you to explore a first sampling of highlights, which features some of the sensational works of First Nations and Inuit art that have been entrusted to us for this major live sale event. We will continue to update this gallery in the next few weeks and encourage you to check back often. We will let you know when we have more highlights for you to enjoy!
First Arts continues to monitor the developments related to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, including adherence to the recommendations of provincial guidelines. With current Ontario restrictions, in-person previews and bidding are presently unavailable.
To find out more information about this sale, please contact:
|Nadine Di Monte||647-286-5012||Info@FirstArts.ca|
UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST, probably KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Standing Mother and Child, early 1950sESTIMATE: $7,000 — $10,000
The sculptural confidence with which this early masterpiece is imbued is matched only by the highly unusual addition of incised ornamentation of both front and back of the mother’s parka flaps and even her mittens. Interestingly and importantly, these details correspond almost exactly to historical photos of South Baffin women wearing skirts, beautifully ornamented parkas, and woolen mittens with Argyle patterns. This is the work of a master; we hope to have identified the artist by the time our catalogue goes to press.
SHEOKJUK OQUTAQ (1920-1982), KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET) / KIMMIRUT (LAKE HARBOUR)
Young Hunter with Geese, c. 1954-55ESTIMATE: $10,000 — $15,000
Sheokjuk carved this portrait of a young goose hunter with a remarkable degree of sensitivity. All the hallmarks of the artist’s classic style are here: the delicate features of the young man’s face; the details of clothing trim beautifully accented with incising and ink; the meticulously crafted implements. Also of note are the gentle forward tilt of the hunter’s head, and the gorgeous figures of the captured geese.
This fine work strongly resembles an ivory figure of a hunter by Sheokjuk shown in a c. 1955 photograph illustrated in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2006), p. 154.
UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST, HAIDA
Recorder (Flute), 1850s-1860sESTIMATE: $25,000 — $35,000
The mouthpiece of this fine argillite recorder displays a highly idiosyncratic and very rare depiction of an octopus that has captured a hapless human in European garb in its tentacles (rather than the much more typical figure of an eagle). A second human figure, in a frog-like supine position, lies at the foot of the recorder. Both the lovely decorative elements and the European figures on this recorder are reminiscent of contemporaneous ship panel pipes and platters.
Haida recorders (or flutes, as they are sometimes called) are among the most beautiful and elegant argillite works carved by the Haida, and they are also perhaps the rarest, with perhaps some two dozen examples known to be held in public collections in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. The first documented reference to argillite “flutes” occurs in 1852 (Drew and Wilson 1980:186), and suggests that production was in full swing by then and likely began in the 1840s. The attributes and iconography of the Haida recorder style vary considerably and can include: a supine eagle, often with one or more crouching frogs facing it; usually six (sometimes fewer) finger holes; an inset lead alloy or pewter mouthpiece and foot; metal, ivory, or bone inlay; carved rosettes, tobacco leaves, or other decorative patterns.
UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST, TLINGIT
Model Totem, 1880sESTIMATE: $10,000 — $15,000
A tall model totem of elegantly slender proportions, this early example features interesting shamanic imagery. The pole exhibits a nice patina with original vermillion red and black pigments.
KENOJUAK ASHEVAK, C.C., R.C.A. (1927-2013) KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Dream, 1963 #11ESTIMATE: $8,000 — $12,000
A veritable icon of the early period of graphic production in Kinngait, Dream from 1963 features the classic crisply rendered silhouette-like figures bursting with ecstatic energy that Kenojuak was producing at this time.
ANANAISIE ALIKATUKTUK (1944-2007) PANNIRTUQ (PANGNIRTUNG)
Taleelayu and Family (Talulayu and Family), 1976 #13ESTIMATE: $2,000 — $3,000
Undoubtedly for its strength of design, Taleelayu and Family was chosen to grace the cover of the international touring exhibition catalogue The Inuit Print / L’estampe Inuit. Organized by the National Museum of Man, this 1977 exhibition was a masterworks retrospective of Inuit prints of the previous two decades. This lyrical and truly charming image remains one of the most iconic of Pangnirtung prints.
MANASIE AKPALIAPIK (1955-) IKPIARJUK (ARCTIC BAY) / TORONTO / OTTAWA
Swaying Drum Dancer, 1989ESTIMATE: $8,000 — $12,000
This extraordinary sculpture was carved at the height of Manasie’s creative powers, almost ten years after his move to southern Canada after the tragic death of his wife and two small children, and a couple of years after a ten-month “sabbatical” back in the artist’s home community of Arctic Bay, during which time Manasie learned kayak-making and drum dancing. The artist brilliantly captures the ecstatic trance of a female shaman as she sways back and forth to the rhythm of her own drumming.
Darlene Wight, Manasie: The Art of Manasie Akpaliapik (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1990), fig. 2;
George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1992), fig. 907.
JUDAS ULLULAQ (1937-1999), UQSUQTUUQ (GJOA HAVEN)
Muskox Shaman with Spirit Helper, c. 1988-90ESTIMATE: $18,000 — $28,000
This remarkable and truly compelling work by the great Judas Ullulaq utilizes a daring compositional format that he attempted only rarely, making use of a full set of horns still attached to part of the animal’s skull. The result is a dramatic image that is stark and eerie yet with a touch of humour and - dare we say it - almost childlike charm. Stunning.
For a closely related work by Ullulaq see Harold Seidelman and James Turner, The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993), fig. 42.
JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A (1906-1985) QAMANI'TUAQ (BAKER LAKE)
Untitled (Wall Hanging), c. 1968-69ESTIMATE: $25,000 — $35,000
This stunning early hanging by Oonark marks an important transition from her earlier textile works - which were mostly loosely organized narrative hunting and camping scenes - to a rather more stratified composition, which nicely anticipates her classic “designed” and more symbolic hangings from 1970 and beyond. The hanging is full of rich detail, and reveals Oonark’s love of clothing designs, her playful use of colour pattern, and her sensitive and quite charming depiction of animals.
NORVAL MORRISSEAU, C.M. (1931-2007) ANISHINAABE
The Legend of the Snake Sturgeon, early 1960sESTIMATE: $8,000 — $12,000
This early work, the theme for which shows the clear influence of traditional Anishnaabe subject matter and style that was encouraged by Morrisseau’s friend and mentor Selwyn Dewdney, was first held by the artist Susan A. Ross and her husband Judge James Ross. Susan Ross and Morrisseau met in 1958 and the two became friends, with Ross sharing art supplies and, eventually, helping Morrisseau sell his paintings. It was Ross who discussed Morrisseau’s talents with Toronto art dealer Jack Pollock, and introduced them during Pollock’s trip to Beardmore, Ontario in 1962. An eponymous pen and ink portrait of Susan Ross by Morrisseau is held in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (accession no. 41930).
ELIJASSIAPIK (1912-1972) INUKJUAK (PORT HARRISON)
Reclining Polar Bear, c. 1954-55ESTIMATE: $12,000 — $18,000
This rare 1950s sculpture is both imposing and incredibly charming. In style if not in pose, Reclining Polar Bear closely resembles a bear by Elijassiapik from c. 1954 illustrated in Darlene Wight’s Early Masters catalogue from 2006 (p. 88), including the highly distinctive treatment of the animal’s nose. Elijassiapik’s bears rival the one carved by the artist’s good friend Johnny Inukpuk in that same catalogue (p. 85). Wight could find only five documented works by Elijassiapuk in public collections, but considered him important enough to include two of his sculptures in the Early Masters exhibition.
JOHNNY INUKPUK, R.C.A. (1911-2007) INUKJUAK (PORT HARRISON)
Mother with Child, Mending a Qamiq, early 1960sESTIMATE: $18,000 — $28,000
A sensitively carved portrait of Johnny Inukpuk’s beloved wife Mary and one of their young children, Mother and Child, Stretching a Qamiq once again shows the young mother carefully attending to one of her many daily chores. As is typical of works from this artist’s “classic” phase of the early sixties, the sculpture combines powerful sculptural form - evidenced in the massive undulating folds of the woman’s clothing and her powerful hands - with lovely details such as Mary’s hair as well as her parka trim and qamiq ties. Less monumental than recent examples we have offered, the work affords us a charming, more intimate glimpse into the daily life of the Inukpuk family.