Canadian Fine Art

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

Online Auction
LOT 46

Lot 46

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

NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
Lot 46 Details
NORVAL H. MORRISSEAU, R.C.A. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)


acrylic on paper, laid down on board
signed in syllabics
sight 32 ins x 40 ins; 81.3 cms x 101.6 cms

Estimate $12,000-$16,000

Realised: $19,200
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)

Private Collection, Calgary, AB


Prolific and self-taught painter Norval Morrisseau has become cemented in Canadian Art History as one of the founding members of the Indian Group of Seven as well as for being a champion of Indigenous arts at a time when Residential Schools and government policy were attempting to destroy Indigenous traditions and culture.

Hailing from Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, Morrisseau grew up around Lake Superior and was well versed in the stories of the massive underwater serpents that live in the great lakes and take down ships and people without a thought. This familiarity comes through in the artist's work as water spirits and serpents show up regularly in his paintings, speaking to an oral history that runs as deep as the Great Lake itself.

This familiarity comes through in many of Morrisseau’s works that speak directly to the stories and histories he grew up around. The use of an explicit Indigenous aesthetic and worldview have left Morrisseau as one of the most important Indigenous artists in contemporary art history, creating works that assert a knowledge that has been shared, upheld and celebrated by many Indigenous artists since.

In this painting we see Morrisseau once again return to his water serpents, here presented in a rich acrylic on board. The serpent's large frame and frightening features take up the body of the canvas, powerfully demanding the authority and attention of the viewer, much like they would in Anishinaabe stories. Morrisseau’s respect and admiration for these large beasts is clear in the ways he details the serpent with webbed toes, large teeth and jarring multi-coloured eyes. By giving us a view into the belly of the beast, we are shown there are more to these spirits than meets the eye. An interwoven world within an already hidden life, which aesthetically connects to the orbs that circle the serpent, showing the spiritual power these animals have for Great Lakes Anishinaabe people.

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 46

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.