“Untitled (Canoe in Autumn)” by Cornelius Krieghoff

By: Greg Humeniuk

Lot 24 – Cornelius David Krieghoff (1815-1872), UNTITLED (CANOE IN AUTUMN), CA. 1860. Oil on canvas; signed lower left; stamped with canvas manufacturer’s name and address, framer’s label verso. 9 x 12.875 in — 22.9 x 32.7 cm. Estimate $25,000-$35,000

This charming view of a canoe in autumn is an extraordinary new discovery that reveals much about Krieghoff. With no record of public auction, the solitary figure in an empty canoe on a still and deserted lake is a powerful example of Krieghoff’s ability to render immense scale at a small size.

Here, and in Krieghoff’s other scenes of nature rendered at approximately 9 x 13 inches, nature is a place of recreation and tranquillity. His Le Bateau à glace, Québec, ca. 1860, in the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and The Artist Painting, ca. 1860, in the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario portray nature as a setting for social and solitary pursuits, respectively. In the latter painting, the figure in a broad brimmed dark hat and dark coat evokes the present painting’s canoeist, although it is premature to speculate on their identity.

The documented provenance of this painting goes back several decades, including a label from Briggs & Co. of Buffalo, New York, on the back of the mid-19th century frame. Briggs & Co. was located at 7 East Swan Street and so named for three years, from 1862 to 1864, when it became Briggs & Howard. Krieghoff, as described by J. Russell Harper, visited western New York in the early 1840s and commissioned Buffalo lithographers to publish prints after his work in the late 1850s.[1] The George Rowney & Co. stamp on the back of the unlined canvas indicates it was manufactured between 1854 and ca. 1862 and bolsters the argument for dating this hitherto undocumented painting to around 1860.[2]

This delightful addition to the corpus of Krieghoff’s paintings shows an artist at the height of his power with an endless capacity to see the landscape and conjure deeply affecting images.

About the auction

Held online from May 24-29, 2024, our spring auction of Canadian and International Fine Art brings together exceptional work from around the world. This auction features celebrated Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, P.C. Sheppard, A.J. Casson, Bertram Booker, Alexandra Luke, Jean Paul Lemieux and Yves Gaucher as well as important First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau, Roy Thomas and Alex Janvier. International highlights include work by Jules Olitski, Karel Appel, Kwon Young-Woo, Norman Bluhm, Józef Bakoś, Léon Lhermitte and Montague Dawson.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

 Thursday, May 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Friday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Saturday, May 25 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Sunday, May 26 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Monday, May 27 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, May 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

Please contact us to find out more.

[1] J. Russell Harper, Krieghoff (Toronto / Buffalo / London: University of Toronto Press, 1979), 92, 9-10.
[2] British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks. Part 9, George Rowney & Co., National Portrait Gallery, Accessed 8 Mar 2024, https://www.npg.org.uk/assets/files/pdf/research/artists_materials_9_Rowney.pdf

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