This session is closed for bidding.
Current bid: $18,000 CAD
Bidding History
Paddle # Date Amount

5507 30-May-2024 07:49:10 AM $18,000

The bidding history list updated on: Friday, June 14, 2024 07:07:11

LOT 428

1884 - 1963

Alert Bay
watercolour on paper, circa 1933
signed and on verso titled
12 1/2 x 9 in, 31.7 x 22.9 cm

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000 CAD

Sold for: $22,500

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Gift from the Artist to a Private Collection, Winnipeg
By descent to a Private Collection, Hamilton
Fine Canadian Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, November 24, 2005, lot 116
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Toronto

Walter Phillips first visited British Columbia in 1927, travelling up the BC coast and visiting the village of Alert Bay. Phillips was struck by the BC landscape and published an image of Alert Bay, The Waterfront, Alert Bay, British Columbia, the following year. Phillips was drawn to the landscape of Alert Bay as well as the poles and architecture of the Kwakwaka’wakw village. What is most striking about this image is his decision to paint the totem pole from the back. This suggests that Phillips was reacting to the scene visually rather than planning a composition that he would turn into a woodblock. The whole of the image is flooded with sunlight and there is a marked difference between the sunlit face of the pole and the back which is cast in shade. Similar contrasts can be seen between the sunlit and shaded parts of the buildings. Note for example the deeply shaded eaves in the building in the lower left of the image. In this image of Alert Bay Phillips clearly enjoyed depicting the striking light effects. He was equally interested in the unusual depiction of the totem from the rear and relished the contrast between the highlighted front and more shaded back. The image reveals Phillips as an observer of remarkable subtlety.

We thank Ian M. Thom, Senior Curator—Historical at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1988 to 2018, for contributing the above essay.

The original owner of this work traveled and painted with Phillips during the 1930s in and around the Lake of the Woods area. This is one of many works which the artist gave to her.

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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