Canadian Fine Art

November 1318, 2021
Auction begins to close at 7:00 pm ET

Online Auction
LOT 45

Lot 45

NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)

NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
Lot 45 Details
NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)


tempera on paper, laid on Masonite
signed in syllabics; titled and dated to gallery label on the reverse
35 ins x 54.5 ins; 88.9 cms x 138.4 cms

Estimate $15,000-$25,000

Realised: $24,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
  • NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
  • NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
  • NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
  • NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)

Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, ON;
Private Collection, Prince Edward Island


Considered the Grandfather of Woodlands style painting, Norval Morrisseau weaves together Anishinaabe spiritual narratives with his own flair for working outside the norm. In Morrisseau’s “Mermaid”, completed between 1958-1962 and done with tempera on millboard, we see the artist once again return to his solo Mermaid figures.

Morrisseau often would turn to explicit Indigenous narratives that both asserted stewardship and Indigenous authority, while still being able to move through settler art spaces which celebrated his art as something foreign and exciting.

In “Mermaid” we see the artist paying homage to the Anishinaabeg Nibiinaageb who appear throughout Anishinaabe mythology as teachers and helpers, as well as falling under their own Clan known as Giishkizhigwan. Morrisseau often used mermaids and water spirits in his paintings as a means to keep alive the teachings from his childhood. By addressing the expectations of who Indigenous art was made for, he created distinct narratives familiar to many of Morrisseau’s own community members, though unrecognizable and perhaps disturbing to some settler onlookers.

The Mermaid exists in a dualistic form, always between animal and human, as well as between genders. Morrisseau can often be seen playing with convention and pushing back against the socially imposed taboos introduced by Christianity. While Morrisseau’s mermaid bares its breasts, it does not read as distinctly female, nor distinctly fish-like. Instead he leaves us somewhere in between, in a place beyond Western understandings of being. Pushing the viewer to think outside themselves and imagine a world (potentially one underwater) that exists beyond what we can comprehend, though exists nonetheless.

Emma Steen is a freelance curator and writer, as well as the Community Relations Manager for the Indigenous Curatorial Collective. Her area of interest lies in art that explores bodies, sex and love with anti-colonial intention.


Good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

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LOT 45

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.