Canadian and International Fine Art

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November 30, 2023 at 8:00 pm ET

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LOT 59

Lot 59

Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)

Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
Lot 59 Details
Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880), Canadian


oil on canvas
signed and dated
12 x 18 in — 30.5 x 45.7 cm

Estimate $3,000-$4,000

Realised: $9,225
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
  • Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
  • Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
  • Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
  • Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)
  • Alexandre Giffard (1841-1880)

The Pagurian Collection, Toronto, ON;
Collection of Sir Christopher and Lady Ondaatje


Pioneers of Canadian Art, The Pagurian Collection (Toronto, ON: Pagurian Press Limited, 1981), 6 no. 62.


The gloves are quite literally off.

Two habitants square up on a snowy road. One figure is already swinging, while the other bellows with rage. Though it would be decades before the Montreal Canadiens came into existence as an organisation, this painted scene reminds us so much of the on-ice gloves-off behaviour of a very different group of habitants.

While the source of the titular disagreement between these two men is not obvious, it is possible that this painting depicts an early incident of road rage. Nineteenth century Canadian thoroughfares were less than ideal in any season, but winter was especially tricky due to reckless driving and the particular construction of the French-Canadian sleds known as carioles. In 1856, William Kingston wrote:

"The cariole ... is placed on low runners of wood, so that the front part of the body almost touches the ground; and when it meets with any slight impediment in the shape of a heap of snow, it drives it onward till a ridge is formed, over which it has to mount; when coming down on the other side it forms a corresponding hollow. Thus it progresses, covering the whole road with ridges and hollows like the waves of the sea, which gradually increase in size as the carioles pass them. These hollows are called cahots." (1)

Giffard studied under Théophile Hamel, and was active in Quebec between 1863 and 1879.
Sir Christopher Ondaatje explains that “a lot of my early collecting was centred around Montreal and its artists, its histories. The Giffard and the Wilkinson go back to early Canadian history—they were the only ones that I have been able to find that were that primitive, that represent that early settlement.”

(1) William Kingston, Western Wanderings; or, A Pleasure Tour of the Canadas (London: Chapman and Hall, 1856), 2:163.


Good overall condition. Striplined. Mild craquelure. Consolidation around edges and in the sky. Stretcher marks around edges.

LOT 59

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.