First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art

May 28, 2019

LOT 14

Lot 14

GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)

GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
Lot 14 Details
GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991), E2-179, Baker Lake / Qamani’tuaq


c. 1970
10.75 x 5.5 x 6.5 in — 27.3 x 14 x 16.5 cm

Estimate $10,000-$15,000

Realised: $15,600
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
  • GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
  • GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
  • GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
  • GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)
  • GEORGE TATANIQ (1910-1991)

an Ottawa private collection


Tatanniq could be considered the “elder statesman” of Baker Lake sculpture. Furthermore his inclusion in Norman Zepp’s Pure Vision catalogue cemented his reputation as one of the most important sculptors in the Kivalliq (Keewatin) region. Tatanniq is renowned for his beautiful depictions of animals, especially muskoxen, but it is his important representations of human subjects that have reached the heights of the sublime. We think especially of works such as Mother and Child of 1970, Fox Woman of 1970, and Woman of 1973 (see Zepp); his Mother and Two Children (Walker’s Nov. 2013); and another Fox Woman (Walker’s May 2016).

Tatanniq began carving in the early 1960s and reached the height of his powers in the early 1970s. He helped to create the Baker Lake sculptural aesthetic but stood slightly apart from its mainstream as well; Tatanniq’s works tend to be more crisply carved, smaller and less massive, and quieter in tone than works by many of his colleagues.

Woman with a Child in her Pouch is one of Tatanniq’s most gorgeous depictions of Inuit womanhood, one of his larger depictions of single figures. The woman leans slightly forward as she puts her hands back to adjust the weight of the child asleep in her rear pouch. It is clear that she is carrying a toddler not an infant, if the size of the bulge at her back is any indication, so the weight is probably considerable. The overall form of the work is bulky but not ponderous; in fact the composition is elegantly balanced on quite small feet. The mother’s voluminous amautiq is depicted as a series of large, sensuous volumes, with particular emphasis on the parka’s capacious hood and pouch. The woman’s exquisite, serene face is crisply and delicately carved and subtly incised. And as with the greatest of Baker Lake sculptures, the surface treatment of the stone is marvellous; the surface has been brought to a satin sheen yet still reveals the marks of fine sandpaper. Baker Lake sculpture does not get any better than this.

References: for a selection of great works see the section on the artist in Norman Zepp, Pure Vision: The Keewatin Spirit (Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1986) pp. 120-129. For important human figures by Tatanniq see George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (McClelland &Stewart, 1972/92) fig. 681; Gerald McMaster ed., Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection (AGO, 2010) pp. 130-131. See also Walker’s Nov. 2011, Lot 90; Nov. 2013, Lot 29; May 2016, Lot 11.

First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 14

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.