First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art

May 28, 2019


Lot 1

JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)

JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)
Lot 1 Details
JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976), E9-818, Povungnituk / Puvirnituq


c. 1968-70
5.5" x 2.5" x 3" — 14 x 6.3 x 7.6 cm.

Estimate $3,000-$5,000

Realised: $5,280
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)
  • JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)
  • JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)
  • JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)
  • JOE TALIRUNILI (1893-1976)

Estate of Peter Murdoch, Montreal. Murdoch was general manager of La Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec from 1967-1997


Talirunili’s great obsession with his family’s Migration story is well documented, but if we were to consider the number of works he carved, surely owls would be considered his favourite subject. Marybelle Myers’ delightful 1977 book on the artist illustrates no fewer than fifteen small stone owls. Joe strove to give each one a distinctive personality, and truly no two are exactly the same. Furthermore Joe’s owls look completely unlike owls carved by any other Inuit artist. Whether tall or short, slim or chubby, Talirunili’s owls are most easily recognized for their exaggeratedly large eyes and ear tufts. It should be noted that owls that frequent the Canadian Arctic have very small ear tufts. It could be that Talirunili once saw a southern tufted owl and became obsessed with its strange appearance, much as the Cape Dorset graphic artist Pudlo Pudlat became obsessed with muskoxen.

References: for similar examples of owls by Talirunili see Jean Blodgett, Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Collection of Inuit Art (Art Gallery of Ontario, 1983) p. 210; see also several examples in the landmark monograph by Marybelle Myers, Joe Talirunili: “a grace beyond the reach of art” (FCNQ, 1977).

First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction


For condition information please contact the specialist.


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.