NEW HAMBURG, Ontario, Canada – Once again it was the legendary Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970) who stole the show at Miller & Miller’s two-day, two-session online auctions held March 25th (Canadiana & Decorative Arts) and 26th (Historic Lamps & Lighting). Seven original paintings by Ms. Lewis combined for more than $300,000. One brought $91,450.
All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars. The Canadiana & Decorative Arts auction grossed $588,613. Historic Lamps & Lighting: $299,838. Online bidding was via LiveAuctioneers.com and the Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. website (MillerandMillerAuctions.com).
The top lot of the auction overall was Ms. Lewis’s oil on beaverboard painting titled Traffic Jam (circa 1956), an 11 ½ inch by 12 inch early and humorous work depicting a cow blocking a car from getting by. It’s a bit out of sync with Lewis’s repertoire, but is a rare and important example of the breadth of her work. Bidders reacted accordingly, as it blew past estimates to hit $91,450.
The other six paintings were Chicks and Hens ($70,800); The Three Black Cats ($38,350); Covered Bridge in Valley ($29,500); Covered Bridge in Winter ($25,960); Docking at the Harbour ($24,190); and Two Oxen in Winter ($20,650). When added to the 17 paintings sold by Miller & Miller in two previous auctions totaling $758,340, the new grand total tops $1 million.
“We were pleased with the strong prices realized for Canadian art,” said Canadiana specialists Joe and Sally Tuer, who assisted Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. on Day 1. “Overall, the better pieces either made estimate or, in most cases, rose above estimate. The Maud Lewis paintings seem to be maintaining their strength, with the more unusual pieces exceeding expectations.”
An oil on board by Franz Johnston (Canadian, 1926-1941), titled Pines Near Penetang, changed hands for $15,340. Johnston was a founding member of the Group of Seven and a member of the Ontario Society of Artists. Also, a pre-1890 oil on canvas River Scene by Homer Ransford Watson (Canadian, 1855-1936), an artist who was influenced by the painters of the Hudson River School and was dubbed the “Canadian Constable” by Oscar Wilde, gaveled for $11,800.
“Furniture performed as well or, in some cases, better than anticipated,” the Tuers said. “This is reassuring in light of the way the market has been soft in the past. The primitives also performed strongly with a few exceptions. We hope the trend for Canadiana furniture, art and primitives continues to strengthen. It reflects the importance of having quality pieces our customers want.”
A spectacular, circa 1880 Canadian (or American) Victorian-era three-piece bedroom suite in the Renaissance Revival style, consisting of a gorgeous bed and two marble-top dressers, both with mirrors, surpassed estimate to ring up $17,700; while a Georgian period (circa 1820s) Canadian breakfast table in mahogany and figured mahogany attributed to Thomas Nisbet (St. John, New Brunswick), displaying all the typical features used by Nesbit, found a new home for $16,250.
A mahogany, circa 1820s Montreal “key hole” wall clock by Martin Cheney (1778-1855), who produced “elegant house clocks” in both Windsor, Vermont and Montreal, 40 ½ inches tall, chime on time for $20,060, besting its $9,000-$12,000 estimate; while a circa 1815 tall case clock by James Hanna (1737-1807) and his son, James (1788-1851), mahogany veneer with a brass dial, earned $15,340. The Hannas were prominent watch and clockmakers in Quebec City.
“The March 26th sale featured a gathering of 19th century lamps and lighting – an assortment so significant we decided they deserved a sale of their own,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “The offering includes exceptional overlays and rare patents from the Valerie Lister, David Broughton and Keith Dill collections, ones that took these folks years to acquire.”
Many of the auction’s expected top lots were overlay kerosene stand lamps, made in America between 1860 and 1880 by Boston & Sandwich Glass Company in Sandwich, Massachusetts, as well as other manufacturers. The makers of many in the sale were unknown but that didn’t make them any less desirable. Their rarity and aesthetic appeal attracted large hordes of eager bidders.
Miller & Miller was assisted by lamps and lighting specialists Gwen and Mike Chvaleich, who remarked, “What an incredible sale. It was so interesting to see the three different collections of these long-time members of the Historical Lighting Society of Canada. Keith Dill’s collection featured many rare examples of overlay lamps, as well as Marbrie Loops, Nailsea and peg lamps. And how often does one find three banquet lamps more than three feet tall in the same auction?”
The Chvaleichs added, “Val Lister’s collection featured a wide variety of lighting, an amassment which told the story of lighting in America and Europe from the 18th century to the 20th century. David Broughton put together a remarkable collection of American lighting specimens, which featured unusual chimneys, shades and patented burners. It’s rare that one finds such a diverse and important assemblage of lighting in one sale. The Miller and Miller team did a fantastic job.”
Top lots included a cobalt cut overlay kerosene banquet stand lamp ($50,150); a ruby cut overlay kerosene stand lamp ($38,350); a ruby cut overlay kerosene stand lamp ($8,260); a Tiffany favrile glass candlestick lamp ($6,490); a green cut overlay kerosene stand lamp ($5,900); a cobalt cut overlay kerosene banquet stand lamp ($5,015); a cut double overlay Latticino kerosene stand lamp ($4,425); and a three-armed gilded brass fluid peg lamp girandole ($3,540).
Up next for Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. are three auction events. They are as follows:
- The Jean-Marc & Danielle Belzile Collection – a live auction, May 13, 2023 at 9 am Eastern time, 20000 Route Transcanadienne, Baie-d'Urfé, QC H9X 0B3
- Luxury Watches – June 3 (online-only)
- Toys – June 9 (online-only)
- Petroliana & Advertising - June 10 (online-only)
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is Canada’s trusted seller of high-value collections and is always accepting quality consignments. The firm specializes in luxury watches, art, antiques and high-value collectibles. Its mission is to always provide collectors with a trusted place to buy and sell.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.
59 Webster Street
New Hamburg, Canada