First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art

May 28, 2019


Lot 8


Lot 8 Details
UNIDENTIFIED, Arctic Quebec / Nunavik


early 1950's
5 x 10.5 x 3.5 in — 12.7 x 26.7 x 8.9 cm

Estimate $4,000-$6,000

Realised: $6,600
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images

an Ottawa private collection


It has been challenging to attribute even a community, let alone an artist, to this wonderful sculpture. Neither the style nor the stone are clear indicators in this case. Because of the work’s obviously early date we think it was most likely carved in Inukjuak or Puvirnituq, but we cannot rule out Cape Dorset either. Darlene Wight’s important Early Masters exhibition catalogue (WAG, 2006) illustrates bears by a number of famous artists from all three communities. We would suggest that this extraordinary work is at least as impressive as any of those fine examples.

As with many early Inuit masterpieces, this bear is both naïve and sophisticated, with a charming yet quite commanding presence. Whether by necessity or by design, the artist carved a dangerous-looking set of teeth from the stone rather than insetting ivory teeth or fangs. On the other hand he faintly incised whiskers – an unusual and charming touch that counterbalances the bear’s ferocity. Clearly the artist had an intimate knowledge of bears, respected them greatly, but also loved them.

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.