No buyers for Thomson, Riopelle at Sotheby's auction

Celebrated pieces by Jean-Paul Riopelle and Tom Thomson failed to sell at the Sotheby's auction Thursday night.

Lawren Harris work tops expectations

Deana Sumanac tells the story of a painting that is up for auction in Toronto on Thursday 2:24

Celebrated pieces by Jean-Paul Riopelle and Tom Thomson failed to sell at the Sotheby's auction in Toronto Thursday night.

A signed, untitled 1954 work by Riopelle, which had been estimated to sell at $800,000 to $1.2 million, remained unsold at the Sotheby's Canada spring sale of Important Canadian Art.

Meanwhile, Thomson's Early Snow, Algonquin Park, which had an estimate of $450,000 to $650,000, also failed to sell after bidding stalled at $425,000. Sotheby's president David Silcox said the painting may sell privately at a later date. 

The biggest seller of the night was Trilliums and Trilliums by David Brown Milne. It went for $278,500, including the buyer's premium.

Early Snow, Algonquin Park, a little-known work by Tom Thomson that has spent more than half a century outside Canada, was given an estimated price of $450,000 to $650,000 but did not sell at auction. (Sotheby's Canada)

Eskimo Tent, Pangnirtung, Baffin Island II, awash in shades of grey, blue and green, had been expected to sell for between $100,000 and $150,000. The rugged Baffin Island landscape by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris sold for $163,500, but another Harris piece failed to find a buyer.

Emily Carr's Forest Interior sold for $71,500, which fell within its pre-auction estimate of $60,000 to $90,000.

Some records set

According to Sotheby's, other artists also set price records, including Frederick Simpson Coburn, George Pepper, Christopher Pratt, Jacques de Tonnancour and Robert Harris.

A statement released by Sotheby's after the auction late Thursday night described the evening as coming to a perfect close when B.C. Binning's Fair Weather Signal Sketch went for $106,000.

"The variety and quality of the paintings in this spring's offering at last brings Canada closer to other countries in the sale of contemporary art," David Silcox, president of Sotheby's Canada, said in the statement.

"Twenty-six living artists, the largest representation ever, were included in the sale."


  • An earlier version of this story reported that Tom Thomson's Early Snow, Algonquin Park sold for $425,000. In fact, the painting did not sell.
    May 27, 2011 9:20 AM ET