Paintings by two of the country’s most famous artists, Lawren Harris and Tom Thomson, failed to find buyers on Tuesday evening at a disappointing live auction in Toronto held by Sotheby’s Canada. The Harris, an Ontario street scene from 1920, Street in Barrie, Ont., photo left, went into the sale with an estimate of $900,000 to $1.2-million, but failed to attract bids beyond $700,000. (Another Harris, a sketch done in the Arctic, made $865,000, the top lot of the evening.) The Thomson oil sketch, painted a few months before the artist’s death in 1917, had a pre-sale estimate of $1-million at its high end, but as with the Harris, bidding stalled at $700,000. Over all, Sotheby’s sold just 103 of the 163 lot on offer to gross $5.5-million, including premium – well below the pre-sale estimate of $8-million to $11-million. The paintings by Harris and Thomson were not alone in failing to find buyers; works by Jean-Paul Lemieux, Clarence Gagnon, Jack Bush and Maurice Cullen also went unsold. One of the evening’s highlights was the sale of a Manitoba winter scene by William Kurelek that sold for $255,500, more than three times its high-end estimate.
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