The history of the Sampson-Matthews silkscreen project
July 6, 2015
Rare Group of Seven oil sketch sets record at Toronto auction
June 1, 2016

For the second consecutive week, another prized work by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris is headed to the auction block. Consignor Canadian Fine Art will hold its first live auction event tonight at 7 p.m. ET at the Berkeley Church in Toronto. The auction is slated to feature a rare oil sketch by Harris that was discovered in Australia and had been in a private collection for nearly 80 years.

“Algoma Sketch 48” was created in the fall of 1919 or 1920, around the time the Group of Seven officially formed as an association of painters. The late landscape artist first visited the Algoma region of Ontario in 1918 and returned on multiple occasions with fellow Group of Seven members. The work served as a preparatory sketch for several of Harris’ well-known large canvases, including “Island, MacCallum Lake,” which is part of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s collection. The sketch was acquired by an anonymous buyer in 1940 from the Laing Mellors Gallery in Toronto, later travelling with the family when they moved abroad. The painting is described as being in “pristine condition,” and is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000.

A trio of Harris’s paintings sold at the Heffel spring auction in Vancouver on May 25. “Laurentian Landscape,” described as a “foundation work for the establishment of the Group of Seven,” sold for $2.2 million. Two additional Harris works are on the Consignor auction block: a Toronto urban sketch estimated to sell between $90,000 and $120,000, and the oil work “Shacks,” expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000. A 1962 canvas by famed Quebec painter Jean Paul Riopelle is expected to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000 at the auction. Other highlights include two additional works by Group of Seven artists: an early 1920s landscape painting of Lake of the Woods by Frank Johnston, and “Little Country Church” by Alfred Joseph Casson.