First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art

May 28, 2019

LOT 28

Lot 28

OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)

OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
Lot 28 Details
OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005), E7-1154, Cape Dorset / Kinngait


stone and antler
signed in syllabics
16.25 x 13 x 6.75 in — 41.3 x 33 x 17.1 cm

Estimate $30,000-$45,000

Realised: $90,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)
  • OSUITOK IPEELEE, R.C.A. (1923-2005)

an American private collection


Osuitok Ipeelee vies with Karoo Ashevak of Taloyoak (1940-1974) for the honour of being considered the most brilliant and imaginative Inuit sculptor of all time. His technical mastery of stone is legendary, and the scope of his visual imagination is impressive. Osuitok could be – and was – a carver of breathtaking naturalistic beauty one week, and a daring abstract sculptor the next.

In Jean Blodgett’s article on Osuitok she wrote: “He pays tribute to the Inuit woman’s ability to fish, sew and care for children, and he frankly admires their physical form” (p. 46). Blodgett’s article illustrates an early example, the famous and striking Fisherwoman from 1963, in the TD-Bank Collection. The TD sculpture is stunning but it was carved before Osuitok’s mature style fully blossomed. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s this artist created important masterpieces in all of his favourite subject categories: birds, caribou, and women.

Our Fisherwoman, from the late 1970s, is not the largest known example but it is the most refined that we can recall ever seeing. The woman’s facial features and body proportions are exquisite, and we love the way Osuitok shows off both the clothing and the woman’s figure; her sense of balance and movement is lively and graceful; and the carving and finishing are sensuous and flawlessly executed. This Fisherwoman is poised, full of joy, and drop-dead gorgeous. Even the fish that she so proudly holds is an astonishingly beautiful small sculpture. Wow.

References: for other excellent examples of fisherwomen by Osuitok see Toronto-Dominion Bank, The Eskimo Art Collection of the Toronto-Dominion Bank (1972) cat. 73; also illus. in Jean Blodgett, “Osuitok Ipeelee” in Alma Houston, ed., Inuit Art: An Anthology, Watson & Dwyer, 1988, p. 46. See also Walker’s May 2012, Lot 17; Nov. 12, Lot 60; May 2016, Lot 48.

First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 28

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.