So the reno has been on hold somewhat this week as we head back to our roots and into to the world of auctions (yep, sometimes I am gainfully employed – not for lack of trying though, believe me).
It’s great to get back into it again, but it is very different from the auctions we used to hold in Toronto, particularly as art and antiques tend to be incredibly regional, at least in this country. There are a lot of very well known East-Coast artists here that I’ve never heard of before, so it’s been a bit of a learning curve, especially for a West-Coast girl.
Anthony Law (1916-1996), for example, is a wonderful painter and Second World War artist, and a major art star out here, but I can’t remember his work ever coming up for sale in Toronto. In fact, I don’t think I had ever heard of him. Here’s a really lovely one we have in the sale of the Blue Rocks outside Lunenburg:
Sam, on the other hand, has been just fine with the rugs and carpets.
He’s lucky though – as they aren’t made here, he can still look knowledgeable. A Kazak is a Kazak whether in Halifax, Toronto or London (though he’ll point out he is holding a tribal saddle bag above).
The exception is hooked rugs and mats – particularly those referred to as ‘Grenfell’, though those are still popular in the rest of Canada, just not as common. Wilfred Grenfell was a Newfoundlander known for many things, but for our purposes he’s best known for setting up medical missions and encouraging the development of a cottage industry which included hooked mats in the late 19th,early 20th century. That’s the gist anyway (Sam says I risk writing the most boring blog yet if I go into too much detail, so sorry in advance).
Here’s two that are in the sale (they don’t always have polar bear themes):
And here’s a kid’s snow suit, also made by Grenfell Industries:
The other thing you’ll notice, unsurprisingly, is the overwhelming nautical nature of the auction. You want a ship painting? This is the place:
It’s this one I’m loving though:
‘Fishing Schooner Leaving St. John’s Newfoundland’ by M.G. Schrader RCMP, 1940, 14 x 24. So cute. But I haven’t been to Newfoundland yet, and I do have a bit of a thing about buying art that depicts places I haven’t seen. Is that weird? Actually, I think it’s pretty normal. People always seem to want to buy art that depicts where they live. That’s why West Coast artists do better on the West Coast, East Coast in the East etc. (we’re talking landscape artists obviously) – and why Canadians love a good painting of snow. It’s true. We’re very predictable on the whole.
Actually, I really love this one too:
‘Fairmount’ by John Loos Antwerp, 1882, 21 x 30 – but it will be beyond my (non-existent) budget. I’ve learned over the years to only covet things that are within the realm of possibility. Difficult to be sure, but it does get easier with the more stuff you see – there will always be something else. Well, usually. Just don’t talk to us about the ‘ones that got away.’ There’s a painting we wanted to buy about 6 years ago that still bugs us…
Or maybe you don’t want the painting of the ship, but just want the ship’s wheel? We’ve got that too:
Or maybe a cannon? Got ya covered:
But it’s not all ships, mats and paintings. There’s always something weird and wonderful that can’t be categorized. Take, for example, these silk stockings that belonged to Queen Victoria:
How crazy awesome are they? Actually, the most interesting part is probably the letter proving provenance that comes with them:
How much are they worth and who will buy them? I have no idea, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to watch.
Another bit of awesome-ness is this Art Nouveau Liberty pewter jug:
It was designed by Archibald Knox – possibly one of the Isle of Man’s most famous sons (after the Bee Gees of course – seriously), and exciting for us having lived there. I would love to own it, but at this point it would mean it or a stove, and I can’t cook in a 19th century jug. Bummer.
My friend Matt is also considering giving away his first-born for this ‘Revelations’ biblical folk art folding screen:
Pretty amazing, though he thinks it would make a great headboard, which just takes me back to the days of the mirrored Jesus…shudder.
I’m not neglecting furniture though as there are some really amazing pieces, and in some ways I’m more passionate about Maritime furniture than art (possibly because there’s a lot of the Maritimes I haven’t seen yet so can’t relate to all the art). But it’s hard to get really excited when you don’t have room for anything in a small apartment. God help us if we ever own a large house.
This is probably what it will be filled with (I’m assuming obviously that large house=large decorating budget):
How beautiful is this mahogany sideboard? It has 27 pigeonholes and 25 of them have ivory inset letters.
To die for.
Then there’s this beautiful Nova Scotian pine blanket box:
The back is the best part:
How this would fit in with our current teak/mid-century modern furniture I have no idea, but it’s definitely a problem I would love to have.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention East Coast folk art. Check out this honey:
‘Privateers Rest’ by David P. Stephens. Priceless. Sam really wants it.
What we might bid on (for real) is this Kazak rug:
I’m justifying it by thinking that with a rug on the floor, maybe we won’t actually have to spend money on flooring. Genius!
Fingers crossed it doesn’t go too high…
Ok – auction is tomorrow so I better get to bed. Over 600 lots to be sold – it’s going to be a long day…