Jean Paul Riopelle canvas commands $2.9 million at Heffel auction


TORONTO – A canvas by Quebec abstractionist Jean Paul Riopelle hammered down for nearly $2.9 million at auction.

Riopelle’s 1953 palette-knife with drip piece “Sans titre” nearly doubled its pre-auction estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House’s spring sale Wednesday.

American abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell’s 1972 canvas “August Sea #5” fulfilled expectations with a sale price of almost $2.2 million.

Artists associated with the Group of Seven exceeded expectations in Heffel’s digital showroom, which was streamed from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver as buyers placed bids online, by phone or in absentia.

Lawren Harris’ depiction of the Rockies “Mountain Sketch” fetched more than $1 million, while B.C. painter Emily Carr’s mature-period forest scene “Singing Trees” commanded nearly $1.3 million. Both pieces went into the auction with an estimated value of $500,000 to $700,000.

Heffel says the 79 lots in its spring catalogue netted a total of $16.5 million. All estimates and sales include auction house fees on top of the hammer price.

Other highlights include:

– Canadian artist Alex Colville’s “Coastal Figure,” painted in 1951 shortly after his return from the Second World War, sold for nearly $1.6 million, outperforming its pre-sale estimate of $650,000 and $850,000.

– “Reflet d’Eden,” a prime-period canvas from Quebec artist Rita Letendre, fetched $450,000, marking a new record for the artist who died late last year, according to Heffel.

— Canadian abstract painter Jack Bush’s “Swing Gay” drew heated bidding that drove up its price to $720,000, doubling its pre-sale estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.