Canadian 'Group of Seven' Artists Make Top Lot Honors in Miller & Miller's Canadiana & Folk Art Auction Held February 12 

New Hamburg, ON, Canada, February 19, 2022 -- Original oil paintings by Canadian “Group of Seven” artists Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974) and Franz Johnston (1888-1949) scored top lot honors in an online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held February 12th by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., based in New Hamburg. The 376-lot auction posted a robust gross of $415,714. 

Prices quoted in this report are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 percent buyer’s premium. 

The oil on panel by Alexander Young Jackson, titled St. Lawrence South Shore Village (circa 1945), measuring 10 ½ inches by 13 ½ inches, was the auction’s top lot. It sailed past its high estimate of $28,000 to bring $47,200. The painting exhibited wonderful color and detail and still had the gallery labels on the back for Klinkhoff in Montreal and Thielsen in London, Ontario. 

The oil on board rendering by Franz Johnston, titled The Battlement, Lake of the Woods, measured 13 inches by 10 ½ inches and sold within estimate for $25,960. It was a vibrant and rare example, with strong brush strokes and content typical of ‘The Group Impressionism’. Johnston resigned from the “Group of Seven” in 1924 as his style evolved more toward realism. 

The auction’s categories included folk art, furniture, art, tools, Canadiana, architectural items, vintage toys, pottery and stoneware, and textiles. Also featured was Part 2 of the Marty Osler collections. Part 1, held in April 2021, was led by a selection of decoys, fishing reels and rods, many by Hardy Bros. of England. Part 2 focused primarily on Canadiana and decorative arts. 

“Folk art proved to be a huge attraction,” said Ben Lennox of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., who added 23 of the top 30 lots blew past their high estimates, supported by high water marks being established for Canadian and American folk artists such as Edmond Chatigny, Joe Norris, Joseph Sleep, Everett Lewis (the husband of Maud Lewis), Purvis Young and Howard Finster. 

“The anticipation and excitement leading up to the sale was evident by strong pre-bidding and electric chatter on social media,” Mr. Lennox pointed out. “That chatter continued post-sale as buyers eagerly expressed their joy and pride in being able to obtain items from the Osler collection that can now grace their own collections of merit. Plans are underway for Part 3.” 

Following are additional highlights from the auction. Internet bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers and the Miller & Miller website ( A total of 554 registered bidders placed 8,585 bids. Telephone and absentee bids were also accepted. 

Sculptures by Edmond Chatigny (Canadian, 1895-1992) included a Farm Scene sculpture, made in Quebec circa 1970, showing a farmer in a plumed hat plowing with a pair of oxen, while multiple birds and flowers lined the field, mounted on a platform base, 19 ½ inches tall ($15,340); and a large Bird Sculpture, made in Quebec circa 1970, depicting a bird in brown paint with white and green splotches, mounted on a square stool base, 30 inches tall ($8,260). 

A watercolor on paper of a Quebec Village by Marc-Aurèle Fortin (1888-1970), diminutive at just 10 inches by 12 inches (sight), painted circa 1925, showing a double-spired church with the Quebec hills in the background, finished at $9,440; while an oil on board painting of a Fishing Village by Joe Norris (Prospect Harbour, Nova Scotia, circa 1980), boasting strong colors typical of Norris’s work and in the original Joe Norris frame with painted flowers, commanded $12,980. 

Outsider Art was led by a large (48 inch by 24 inch) painting on plywood by Purvis Young (1943-2010), of a city scape often seen in Young’s works, which can be found in collections like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture ($5,605); and a painting of white daisies on green stems in a brown pot by Jimmy Lee Sudduth (1910-2007), an artist who rarely used brushes, preferring his fingers instead, signed “Jim Sudduth” ($4,425). 

Artwork dominated the list of top lots, but other items also fared quite well, like the following:

- An important, large and joyful ship whirligig in tin of a white ship on blue seas by Quebec artist Ernest Joly, circa 1970, with a ship that rocks back and forth when the propeller turns, a captain at the helm, 36 inches by 57 inches (estimate: $2,500-$3,000).

- A circa 1835 Ontario Adam style corner cupboard, 84 inches tall by 50 inches wide, with a fluted frieze on the cornice and astral glazing on the upper doors. Each upper door had 13 panes of glass; the lower section had two paneled doors above a bracket base ($5,605).

- A circa 1870 allegorical walking stick or Resurrection Cane (Abitibi County, Quebec), exhibiting a classic blend of traditional Native and Christian imagery such as a twisting snake, a turtle, tree of life, stars, animals, fish, a crucifix and a rooster ($4,130).

Two oil on board paintings by the renowned “Group of Seven” artist Manly Edward MacDonald (1889-1971) were offered, including Log House, signed lower left and measuring 11 ½ inches by 15 ½ inches (sight) ($4,130). Also, a charming oil on board by Everett Lewis (1893-1979), the aforementioned husband of Maud Lewis, showing two oxen with a young girl wearing a yellow sweater and blue skirt, holding a whip, circa 1975, signed and framed ($5,310). 

An oil on Masonite painting by maritime folk artist Joe Sleep of a red and yellow bird surrounded by flowers with a yellow house with a green roof in the receding background, titled Yellow House, 22 inches square, signed and dated 1977, realized $5,310. Also, an oil on canvas of Niagara Falls from the upper bank to the lighthouse by the pavilion hotel, painted by M. F. Holloway in 1850, 15 ½ inches by 24 ½ inches, sold for $3,540.

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