Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


$5 painting could be worth thousands

$5 painting could be worth thousands

A painting bought earlier this year for $5 in a bric-a-brac sale in Northland could be worth tens of thousands of dollars in an art sale to be held on Monday (22nd November).

The unsigned painting is attributed to the highly respected and sought after Canadian artist, Lawren Harris, whose works have collectively sold for more than CAN$70 million.

Grant Bezett, Director of Fine Art Society New Zealand, is curating an art auction by Aesthete Gallery in Hamilton on Monday at which the painting will be one of the most keenly watched lots. Its value has been estimated at $20,000 to $50,000.

“It is impossible to put a market value on such a painting in the New Zealand market,” Mr Bezett said. “All we can do is infer its value in New Zealand from its potential value in Canada.”

The owner of the painting, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought it earlier this year while travelling with family in Northland.

A keen collector of older New Zealand paintings, she was told when she purchased the painting that it was from the estate of a Canadian lady who had emigrated from Ontario, Canada to New Zealand and had received it as a wedding gift from an wealthy Canadian relative.

The framing label verso states that the painting was framed in 1941 by Stedman’s Book Store in Brantford Ontario. Brantford was the home of Lawren Harris.

Mr Bezett said the painting is highly consistent with Harris’ style and subject matter.

“The work is an ‘en plein air’ sketch of a river scene. Technically and artistically it is very competent and confident,” said Mr Bezett. “It is completely original including the frame so I’m very confident about its provenance.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“There’s an insatiable appetite for Harris’ work in Canada based on the fundamental quality of his work. He’s the Canadian equivalent of Goldie in terms of how his work is valued.”

Lawren Harris (1885 – 1970), along with six other Canadian painters, formed the Group of Seven who together developed a distinctly Canadian approach to Canadian landscape art in the early 19th Century. Harris was essentially the leader of the group whose work was influenced by European impressionism. During the 1920s the group became known as the pioneers of Canadian art.

During that time, Harris' works became more abstract and simplified. He also stopped signing and dating his works so that people would judge his works on their own merit and not by the artist or when they were painted.

Mr Bezett says that Harris and the group of seven travelled widely throughout Canada for their inspiration.

“They turned around the prevailing view that the Canadian landscape was not worthy of painting and demonstrated the character of the country’s diverse landscapes in a new way,” said Mr Bezett.

It was this exploration of the natural landscape and new techniques that saw the value of their works increase.

Earlier this year a Harris painting sold for CAN$2.8 million.

Other sales this year include a small oil-on-board sketch for CAN$730,000 which was way over the estimated price of CAN$300,000 – $500,000.

“I’m as sure as I can be from the research I’ve done that this is one of his paintings,” said Mr Bezett. “I am not an expert on Harris but I know something about art and I’ve done my research.

“We are hoping that it will remain in New Zealand and that is why we have estimated its value at $20,000 - $50,000.”

“However we are selling into an educated market and it is possible that there will be interest from Canadian buyers if they come to hear of it.”

Mr Bezett said the story of how the painting was discovered and purchased for such a small sum simply adds to its interest.

“It could be one of those works that could have gone unnoticed for many years, but has been a considerable find by the owner given her initial outlay of $5.”


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.