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Harris, Carmichael sales wrap up Canadian auction season

Work by Lawren Harris, Franklin Carmichael and George Reid were among the highlights of the season's final major Canadian art auction.

Works by Lawren Harris, Franklin Carmichael and George Reid were among the highlights of the season's final major Canadian art auction.

Abstraction (Panel No. 63), a work by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris, was at the centre of "probably the biggest battle of the night," Rob Cowley, Joyner Waddington's associate director, told CBC Arts Online on Thursday.

The mood was electric as a packed house of bidders, press, industry representatives and regular auction clients watched a bidding war for the Harris work on Tuesday night, he said.

Harris's Abstraction finally sold for $112,700 (all prices include buyer's premium). It had been estimated to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000.

"When you get into lots that are going quite high, you kind of feel everyone just holding their breath," Cowley said.

Spring, Frood Lake, a sketch by Harris's colleague Franklin Carmichael, sold for $365,900 — a new record for a sketch bythe Group of Seven artist, according to the auction house.

George Reid's 1886 painting Toronto Waterfront, a rare canvas depicting the city's lakeshore dotted with small boats, sold for $184,000 at Joyner Waddington's two-day sale — doubling the artist's previous record high.

Reid, who served as president of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy, was among the leading champions of Canadian artists, public art and murals during the early 20th century.

Other highlights included the sale of contemporary pieces, including Inner Structure #5 ($32,200) by Painters Eleven member Kazuo Nakamura and Byzantium, Sign #5 ($55,200) by Ronald Bloore, the Toronto-based painter who helped form the Regina Five.

The Toronto auction house offered 650 lots over two days, the bulk of it on Wednesday, the second day, when "it's a bit more of a casual sale when you compare it to the fanfare of the first night," Cowley said.

Overall, about 80 per cent of the lots were sold, with the auction house taking in approximately $4.5 million over the two nights, he added.

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