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Lawren Harris’ Mountain Forms breaks Canadian art auction record

Lawren Harris’ Mountain Forms has broken the record for a Canadian artwork at auction.
The Group of Seven artist’s 1926 work sold for $11.2 million at Heffel Fine Art Auction House in Toronto on Wednesday.

That’s more than double its $5 million estimate and the previous Canadian art auction record – set by Paul Kane’s Scene in the Northwest, which sold for $5.1 million in 2002.

The 1.5 by 1.8 metre canvas depicts Mount Ishbel in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is one of the finest examples of Harris’ abstract realist works from the 1920s.

"It deserves to be the record Canadian artwork at auction worldwide," Heffel’s president, David Heffel, explained to CBC News following the auction.

"It was a great moment for Canadian art, for Canadians and for Lawren Harris."

The auction saw two further Harris works sell well. Mountain Sketch LXIII made $2 million, while Mount Robson from Berg Lake achieved $1.9 million.

Tom Thomson’s Sleet Storm sold for $1.5 million – a figure matched by AJ Casson’s Country Crisis. The latter is a record for the artist.

Heffel believes the auction is the beginning of a surge in popularity for Canadian art.

“I think we’ve burst through the 42nd parallel. It really has propelled Canadian art to a new international level,” he told CTV News.

"We’re really at the forefront now. It’s a whole new frontier for the international acceptance of our visual artists who are world class and can compete at a multinational level.”

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Note: all prices in Canadian $.

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