Exceptional Results: 2023 in Review

By: Waddington's Staff

We’re pleased to share some of the exceptional results we achieved in 2023 and sincerely thank all of our consignors and bidders for choosing Waddington’s. As we go into our 174th year as Canada’s auction house, we thank you for your continued support.

With 2024 underway, be sure to view our upcoming auctions and sign up for our emails so you don’t miss out. As we plan for more exciting auctions we look forward to connecting with you to talk about consignment opportunities. Contact us to find out more.

Below are a few highlights from 2023. We also invite you to browse the entire list of prices realised from our auctions, and remind you that all prices noted include Buyer’s Premium.

Lawren Stewart Harris (1885-1970), LATE SUN, NORTH SHORE, LAKE SUPERIOR, 1924. Price Realised: $270,750

Canadian Art 

Marked by two major auctions and a host of auxiliary auctions, 2023 proved that the market for Canadian art remains strong and fine works with good provenance across all periods continue to garner buyer excitement. Highlights of the year included Lawren Harris’ “Late Sun, North Shore, Lake Superior, 1924,” which achieved a price of $270,750, and J.E.H. MacDonald’s “Snowy Morning, Rocky Mountains Near Lake O’Hara, 1925,” which sold for $120,750 in the spring. “The Waterfront at Cowichan Bay, 1960” by E.J. Hughes sold for $318,750 while Rita Letendre’s hard-edged “Untitled, 1976” smashed its high estimate, achieving $43,950 in our major fall auction.

There was significant interest in the works from the Collection of Sir Christopher and Lady Ondaatje offered in November. Collecting Canadian art was Sir Christopher’s “first great love,” an early entrée into the upper stratosphere of the art world. The works that were included in our recent auction were recently brought back to Canada, after the sale of the Ondaatje family’s London residence. We invite you to read more about Sir Christopher’s collecting journey.

Sir Christopher had a particular passion for the art of Frederick Verner, Cornelius Krieghoff and Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, all of which were well represented in this auction and performed well. The cover lot, “A Trip to Town, 1865” by Cornelius Krieghoff was a top performer, selling for $168,750.

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes, RCA (1913-2007), Canadian. THE WATERFRONT AT COWICHAN BAY, 1960. Price Realised: $318,750

Two paintings from Sir Christopher’s historical collection in particular prompted a flurry of bids: John B. Wilkinson’s “Sleighs on the Ice Below the Citadel, Quebec City” and W.S. Cooper’s “View of the Barracks at Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1834.” The former more than quadrupled its high estimate of $12,000 to finish at a robust $51,150, a record for the artist. The latter more than doubled its high estimate to sell for $27,060. “The Disagreement, 1873” a charming painting by Alexandre Giffard, also broke the record price for the artist at auction, hammering at $9,225.

Two others from the Ondaatje collection have entered public collections. Van Horne’s painting of the New Brunswick fishing camp owned by George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen (1829-1921) was purchased by Les Jardins de Métis, a national historic site founded by Stephen’s niece, Elsie Reford, and will be put on public display. A second painting, “A Mi’Kmaq Family with their Chief in Nova Scotia” after Hibbert Newton Binney, has gone to the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Other highlights from the year included paintings by Claude A. Simard and a sculpture by William Hodd McElcheran, both of which attracted particularly fervent bidding. Collectors who missed out on the McElcheran should keep their eyes open for a similar sculpture from the same series, which will come to auction in January 2024 with our Modern, Postwar and Contemporary Art auction. Another excellent Simard will be coming to auction in March as well.

Karoo Ashevak ᑲᕈ ᐊᓴᕙ (1940-1974), Taloyoak (Spence Bay)
DRUM DANCE, CIRCA 1974. Price Realised: $34,350

Inuit and First Nations Art

Since Waddington’s first auction devoted to Inuit art in 1978, we have watched the market for Inuit art grow, attracting eager collectors from around the world. The department produced 14 auctions in 2023, including two major auctions and several smaller auctions with specific themes, including “Nivingajuliat: Inuit Wall Hangings” and “Where the River Widens: Art From Qamani’tuaq.”

Major highlights from the first half of the year included “Drum Dancer with Attendant Spirits, ca. 1975” by George Tataniq ᑕᑕᓂ, which achieved a price of $10,455, “Sedna Searching, ca. 1984-1986” by David Ruben Piqtoukun ᑎᕕᑎ ᐱᑐᑯ ᕈᐱᐃᓐ, which almost doubled its high estimate to sell for $9,225, and “Untitled (Owl), ca. 2009” by Kenojuak Ashevak ᑭᓄᔭᐊ ᐊᓯᕗ, which sold for $9,225. Another standout was “Hundreds and Hundreds, Herds of Caribou, 1975,” by Ruth Qaulluaryuk ᑲᐅᓗᐊᔪ, which almost tripled its high estimate to fetch $13,440.

Another dedicated auction was the Historic First Nations Art from the Collection of Steven Blevins & Sonja Morawetz, the highlight of which was a Quilled Lidded Box by an unidentified Mi’kmaq artist, which reached a price of $15,006.

Our major Fall 2023 auction of exceptional works of Inuit and First Nations Art reflected the journey of passionate collectors and enthusiasts, many of whom built collections over decades, selecting artworks rich in aesthetic significance and meaning. We were proud to include artworks from the Estate of Kenneth and Eunice Barron, and the Estate of Terry Ryan.

ALEX JANVIER (b. 1935), Denesuline. SNAPPY COLD SPELL. Price Realised: $39,150

Drum Dance, Circa 1974” by Karoo Ashevak ᑲᕈ ᐊᓴᕙ led the way, achieving a price realised of $34,350. “Drum Dance” was acquired by collectors Kenneth and Eunice Barron in 1975, four years before Eunice became the founding President of the Inuit Art Enthusiasts (IAE). The sculpture formed a key work in the couple’s collection. Both one-time presidents of the IAE, Eunice curated several exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Alberta, The Royal Alberta Museum, and the McMullen Gallery. “Drum Dance” has been held in their private collection since their initial acquisition of the work in 1975.

A striking sculpture by Robert Charles Davidson (G̲uud San Glans) entitled “Eagle’s Call, 2013” doubled its high estimate of $7,000 to reach a price realised of $14,730. “Striding Caribou” by Henry Evaluardjuk ᐃᕙᓗᐊᔪ, a rare subject for the artist, performed well, doubling its high estimate to sell for $13,776.

Another highlight was the extremely rare “Eskimos Rolling Oil Drums at Shiptime, 1959” by Kiakshuk ᑭᐊᓱ, from the collection of Terry Ryan. Previously speculated to have been made in an edition of three, this important special commission print is clearly marked: “3/3.” Reproduced in the October 1960 edition of the Imperial Oil Review, the print depicts workers rolling oil drums from the beach up to a stone yard behind the Kinngait residence of James Houston. This scene may be documented in the photographic records of freelance photojournalist Rosemary Gilliat Eaton (1919–2004) who was working on behalf of Imperial Oil in 1960, and described the events portrayed in the print in her diary of that year.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), American. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (JAMES DEAN), FROM “ADS”, 1985 [F&S II. 355]. Price Realised: $168,750

International Fine Art 

Why shop abroad when great work by blue-chip artists can be bought in Canada? Highlights from the year included a painting by Henri Le Sidaner, “Petite place au soleil couchant, 1901” which sold for $96,000, Friedel Dzubas’ “Phirruss, 1985” which hammered for $72,750, and Piet van der Hem’s “Two Ladies in a Café, 1912,” which blew away its estimate to sell for $102,990. Other highlights include Kees van Dongen’s “La femme à la fourrure, 1925” and “CBC 2, 1984” by Nam June Paik, which sold for $27,060.

Our Editions auctions continue to showcase the finest multiples. Under the guidance of our Montreal-based Director of International Art, Goulven Le Morvan, this series of auctions attracted bidders from across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and the Middle East, all vying for the exceptional works we assembled for our collectors.

Works by Andy Warhol performed well, including “Rebel Without a Cause (James Dean), From “Ads,” which sold for $168,750, while “Vegetarian Vegetable, from “Campbell’s Soup II,” 1969 [F. & S. 56]” went over its high estimate, selling for $60,750. Pablo Picasso also led the way with “Jacqueline au chapeau noir, 1962, [B. 1028; BA. 1311]” and “Françoise, 14 juin 1946 [B. 401; M. 45]”, which fetched $109,950 and $82,350 respectively. Other notable sales included Alex Katz’s “Yellow Tulips” which hammered at $39,000, Joan Miró’s “Querelle d’amoureux, I, from “Allegro Vivace,” 1981 [M. 1233],” selling for $12,300, Salvador Dalí’s bronze sculpture, “Nobility of Time, 1977-1984,” selling for $29,520 and Marc Chagall’s “Couple dans les Mimosas, from “Nice and the Côte d’Azur,” 1967 [CS. 32],” which fetched $18,450.

Another highlight of the year was Irving Penn’s “Hell’s Angels: Doug (San Francisco), 1967-1976,” part of our collaboration with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, which we hope you will join us for again this year – more information can be found here.

The ‘Fu Yi’ You, Shang-Yin Dynasty, Anyang Phase, 11th Century BC 商 安阳时期 青铜兽面纹’父乙’卣 铸铭文
Price Realised: $54,750

Asian Art

Our Asian Art department continues to lead the way in Canada, working with prominent collectors and estates locally and internationally. Chinese art forms the core of our auctions, though a wide range of art and artistry from across the continent is represented, with notable sales coming from historic and contemporary objects alike. Senior Specialist Amelia Zhu and Specialist Austin Yuen work hard to keep in touch with clients from around the world –  across a wide range of time zones!

Highlights from the year include jade, emblemized by a rare white jade ‘Dragon’ plaque, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) which tripled its high estimate to fetch $96,750, ceramic items including a rare yellow-ground Doucai ‘Dragon’ dish, Kangxi Mark and of the period (1662-1722), which more than doubled its high estimate to achieve a price realised of $51,150, and a large carved and moulded Longquan celadon ‘Phoenix-Tail’ temple vase, Yuan Dynasty, 14th century, which almost doubled its high estimate in April. Snuff bottles continue to attract devoted collectors, with two standout lots including this Imperial-Style Famille Rose Enameled example from the mid-20th century, which attracted a frenzy of bidding to reach a price realised of $102,750, and another Famille Rose enamelled white glass ‘Flower Basket’ example dating from the Qianlong Period, circa 1775-1795, which quadrupled its high estimate to fetch a final price of $48,750.

Another key moment of the year was the sale of The ‘Fu Yi’ You, Shang-Yin Dynasty, Anyang Phase, 11th Century BC, part of a group of Important Archaic Bronzes and Chinese Jades from the Collection of Albert Y.P. Lee and Sara K.S. Lee. We were honored to have been entrusted with this significant collection. Bringing the year to a close was an excellent work of contemporary art, a painting by Chinese-American artist Walasse Ting (1929-2010), “Two Women With Fans,” circa 1975-1980, which achieved a price realised of $23,370.

THE MACALLAN SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY NAS (ONE 750 ML, OWC). Price Realised: $20,400

Fine Wine & Spirits

The only auction house working under the auspices of the LCBO, Waddington’s continues to lead the Canadian market in this sector. Year over year, we have seen a dramatic increase in both new bidders and consignors. Our team presented eight successful auctions in 2023, which included our September Fine Wine auction, our largest yet with 700 carefully curated lots.

Collectors loved OWCs in 2023, with highlights including an OWC of Château Mouton Rothschild 2000, which achieved a price realised of $26,880, an OWC of Château Lafite Rothschild 1990, which reached a price of $15,984, and a Château Lafite Rothschild 2009 (6, OWC) which sold for $9,600. Other wine highlights included a magnum of Domaine Armand Rousseau Père Et Fils Chambertin 2007 which sold for $9,600, and a bottle of Domaine Armand Rousseau Père Et Fils Chambertin 2010, which reached $6,768 at auction.

Fine Spirits highlights included a bottle of The Macallan Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky NAS (one 750 ml, OWC), which sold for $20,400, a bottle of Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky NAS (one 700 ml), which achieved a price realised of $12,000, a bottle of The Macallan Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky NAS (one 750 ml), a bottle of The Yamazaki Single Malt Japanese Whisky (one 750 ml) which went over double its estimate to sell for $7,200, and a bottle of Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky 41 Years (one 700 ml) which doubled its estimate to reach $5,700.

We look forward to seeing you in 2024, and invite you to join us for our first auctions of the year, which will be held online from February 26 – March 5.⁠

Massive Roman Marble Copy of the Hellenistic Head of The Dying Alexander, 17th century or earlier. Price Realised: $14,400

Decorative Arts & Design

Perhaps the most broad and diverse of our departments, Decorative Arts & Design handles items including bronzes, items of Canadian historical interest, ceramics, devotional works of art, glass, lighting, militaria, mirrors, objets de vertu, porcelain, silver, scientific instruments, travel and exploration maps, and fine rugs and carpets.⁠ The year began strongly with a massive Roman marble copy of the Hellenistic head of The Dying Alexander, 17th century or earlier, which almost tripled its high estimate to reach a price realised of $14,400 – read more about the bust’s history here. An American silver elephant comport from 1881⁠ was another highlight, fetching $33,600, almost five times its high estimate – and providing an exciting research opportunity for Senior Specialist Bill Kime, who tracked down the piece’s original mould.

2023 was also the year of Moorcroft, with three auctions representing the incredible collection of Elgin Cooley. The third installation included, among other highlights, a Macintyre Moorcroft two-handled Landscape vase, made for Townsend & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne, c.1903-04. The vase soared above its estimate to reach a price realised of $11,070.

Sean Quinn, who runs our beloved Cabinet of Curiosities auctions, always brings the best of the historical and less-easily-categorized to auction. A few of these highlights included Louis Riel’s carte-de-visite, a gem-set silver gilt automaton singing bird box, and twelve Worcester dinner plates made for Albert, Prince of Wales’s visit to Canada.

 

Early 20th Century (ca. 1920) Ryrie Bros. Platinum Filigree Ring. Price Realised: $90,000

Fine Jewellery & Watches

Jewellery, watches and other luxury goods continue to bring excellent prices at auction. Waddington’s has conducted auctions of Fine Jewellery and Watches for over four decades, with our auctions including both contemporary and period jewellery, and featuring the work of some of the world’s most famous design houses and watch brands.⁠

In 2023, twentieth century period designs and artifacts led the way with an early 20th century Ryrie Bros. platinum diamond ring more than doubled its high estimate to fetch $90,000, while an Art Deco Cartier French Platinum Bracelet went almost triple its estimate to reach a price realised of $41,550.

Numismatics formed an important part of this year’s offerings, and was also led by artifacts from the first half of the twentieth century including a Bank Of Canada 1935 $25 bank note which reached a price realized of $17,220. Standout timepieces included a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner, With Date, which realised $29,520 and a Lady’s Breguet ‘Reine De Naples’ which realised $24,600.

Other highlights included a mid-19th century Carlo Giuliano 14k yellow gold hinged bangle, a Georg Jensen Danish sterling silver pendant, a Sherman gold-tone metal bracelet, a Dolce & Gabbana ‘Teatro Dei Pupi’ Patent Leather Purse, and a Montblanc ‘Dostoevsky’ limited edition fountain pen.

Join us in 2024 – our first auction from this department will be Estate Jewellery, February 24-29.⁠

 

ACHIEVE EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS: CONSIGN WITH US!

We are already hard at work assembling works for our 2024 auction schedule.

Our clients love working with us because of our transparent consignment process, the care and attention we show your fine art, and the industry-leading results we achieve. Whether you are looking to consign or learn more about selling at auction, please contact us to discuss how we can be of service.


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