Canada

Kane painting fetches $2.2 million, but will it go south?

American pays $2.2 million for Kane oil portrait, tying as second-highest price ever for a Canadian painting

An anonymous American paid one of the highest prices ever for a Canadian painting during an auction Sunday, but the deal must still be approved by Ottawa.

The Portrait of Maungwudaus (1851) by artist and explorer Paul Kane was purchased for $2.2 million tying for the second-most expensive Canadian painting.

It will leave the country if Ottawa grants a cultural property export permit. If federal officials refuse, the government must then purchase the painting itself for the same amount.

In May 2001, the Canadian work Baffin Island by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris also sold for $2.2 million.

A different oil work by Kane, Scene from the Northwest, currently holds the record as the most-expensive Canadian painting ever sold. The country's wealthiest man, Kenneth Thomson, paid $5.06 million for it during an auction in Toronto earlier this year. The work has since been donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Maungwudaus was an Ojibwa-speaking Mississauga who lived in the early 19th century. He converted to Christianity in the 1820s, and became an aboriginal preacher. Also known as George Henry, he eventually formed a dance troupe that performed native ceremonies before kings and queens in Europe.

Experts believe the portrait of Maungwudaus was probably painted by Kane around 1851, when the dance troupe appeared at St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto.

Kane (1810-1871) has been called the founding father of Canadian art. He was one of the first painters to capture life in the country's northwest, recording everything from fur trapping to buffalo hunts years before the age of photography.

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