Canadian Fine Art Auction

May 28, 2018

LOT 61

Lot 61


Lot 61 Details


oil on canvas, mounted to canvas
17.75 ins x 30.25 ins; 45.7 cms x 76.8 cms

Estimate $225,000-$275,000

Realised: $456,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images

Private Collection


Marius Barbeau, Cornelius Krieghoff: Pioneer Painter of North America, MacMillan Company of Canada Limited, Toronto, 1934, pages 129-130.

J. Russell Harper, Krieghoff, Key Porter Books Limited, Toronto, 1999, pages 88-89, page 59, cover illustration for closely related painting of the same subject (detail), and page xv, colour plate 5, for the cover work (probably of a slightly later date than our lot), reproduced in its entirety.  

Dennis Reid, Krieghoff: Images of Canada, Douglas & McIntyre / Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1999, page 71 and page 142, plate 82 for the print of this subject, reproduced in colour.


In 1853, Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872) relocated to Quebec City in search of a fresh market for his paintings. As Dennis Reid reminds us, at that time Quebec was a bustling city: 

"Almost as large as Montreal at a population of some 58,000, close to 40 per cent anglophone (as opposed to the then slightly more than 50 per cent anglophone component of the Montreal population) it was the military headquarters for British North America, the centre of the all-important timber trade with Britain, the location of the burgeoning new ship building industry and since October 1851, had been the seat of the government for the province of Canada, a position it would retain until the capital moved again to Toronto in 1855." 

According to Russell Harper, the decade or so Krieghoff spent in Quebec City were years of fulfillment for the artist and among his most productive. This lot, depicting a trepidacious winter crossing between Quebec City, whose citadel and ramparts are silhouetted in the distance, and Lévis on the opposite side of the mighty St. Lawrence River, dates to that happy and productive period. Harper writes:

"Passengers between Quebec and Lévis on the other side of the St. Lawrence travelled during the winter months aboard special Royal Mail canoes. The boatmen or canotiers who operated these were a hardy breed who jumped out on the ice floes which impeded their progress and hauled the wooden canoes over the obstacles. Some passengers who gave them a hand received a reduction in their passage money. It was an adventurous trip for the uninitiated, and one of the experiences remembered by visitors to Quebec in the winter months." 

Our canoe bears the responsibility of safe passage for eleven people - including one woman, seated on a thick bear skin rug, and a black dog. It is fair to imagine that this is not their first crossing for none seems particularly alarmed by what appears to be an experience that could have an uncertain outcome. 

Marius Barbeau, Krieghoff's early biographer, lists six known versions of this subject as well as one print which was produced by Kell brothers, in 1860. At over 17 by 30 inches, this canvas would be the largest known version of the subject. 


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 61

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.