Heffel's Fine Art Auction House will be first out of the gate in Vancouver on May 26 with its sale, with highlights from three prominent collections: the estates of architect Arthur Erickson, Theodosia Dawes Bond Thornton, who built her post-war collection by purchasing canvases directly from Group of Seven artists — and an unnamed Canadian philanthropist.
Among the top Heffel lots is Lawren Harris's oil on canvas mountainscape Bylot Island I, estimated to sell for between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.
It's a similar story at Sotheby's Canada, which is selling a host of paintings from the estate of art aficionado W. Allan Manford, who possessed — for a time — what was considered the finest collection of Group of Seven paintings in Canada, Sotheby's Canada president David Silcox told CBC News.
Sunlight in the Forest by Emily Carr is one of the featured lots of the upcoming Sotheby's Canada spring auction on June 2. (Sotheby's Canada)
Though Manford had sold a few major works in the past decade, "he kept some pretty wonderful things for himself," Silcox said, noting the works by Harris, David Milne, J.E.H. Macdonald and Emily Carr that will be sold in Toronto on June 2.
For instance, a Carr from the collection — the oil-on-canvas work Sunlight in the Forest — is the top lot and estimated to sell for $700,000 to $900,000.
While the public's taste typically runs to the Group of Seven, their contemporaries and has also expanded to latter collective Painters Eleven, Silcox is especially excited by Canada's newer wave of living contemporary artists.
Lots in the upcoming sale include works by Kent Monkman, Charlie Pachter, Edward Burtynsky, Graham Gillmore and Attila Richard Lukacs.
"We're — relatively speaking — still a small country as far as the contemporary art market is concerned. We still have a way to go to catch up to places like the U.K., France, Germany, even Australia," Silcox said.
Sweeping sale in TorontoAccess to many collections has also led to a large, sweeping sale for Toronto-based auctioneer Joyner Waddington, slated for June 1.
"We're starting an hour early to accommodate," said Joyner Waddington vice-president Rob Cowley.
Joyner Waddington will offer A.J. Casson's Street in Glen Williams this spring. (Joyner Waddington)
The Joyner Waddington offerings range from strong historical art from the 19th and 20th centuries, to living artists, native art, fine sculpture, folk art and prints, Cowley noted.
"We're very pleased with the breadth of the sale," which will be "accessible to many different types of collectors across the country."
So far, the A.J. Casson oil canvas Street in Glen Williams — featured on the cover of the Joyner Waddington spring catalog — has been garnering the most interest from buyers, Cowley said. The vibrant small-town Ontario-inspired work is estimated to sell for $200,000 to $250,000.
Appetizing sculptureOn the other end of the scale is Flat Paraire Pantry, a massive painted ceramic and wood sculpture by Saskatchewan artist Victor Cicansky (estimated to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000) that has also sparked buzz and excitment among art lovers and auction staffers.
"In the past, at auction, you've literally seen just one mason jar," Cowley said of Cicansky's whimsical, food-related sculptures.'
"In this case, you have a pantry full of not only the mason jars, but also made up of the cabbages and potatoes [and vegetables] ... It's eight feet long [2.43 metres] and over eight feet high," he added.
"We're very excited to see what is going to happen with that piece at auction."