Matisse, Riopelle, Renoir masterworks up for auction

Heffel Fine Art Auction House, leader in the expanding global art market, will present more than 100 outstanding works of art in its anticipated spring auction on May 29 in Toronto.

Featuring museum-quality masterworks by Henri Matisse, Jean Paul RiopelleLawren Harris and many others, the collection is expected to total between $15 million and $23 million and will undoubtedly draw collectors and enthusiasts from near and far. Rare-to-the-market treasures from around the world demonstrate the diversification of the global art market and the continued expansion of visual arts in Canada.

The anticipated headliner of the upcoming auction is a painting by Henri Matisse, one of the most prominent figures of 20th Century Modernism, whose iconic works crown the collections of the world’s most famous museums. A stunning example from Matisse’s time in Nice, painted in 1919, Femme assise sur un balcon is the first major oil on canvas by the legendary artist offered at auction in Canada, representing a milestone for the Canadian market. The work bears illustrious provenance, as it has remained in the artist’s family for generations, passed down through his son Pierre and eventually to his grandson Pierre-Nöel.

A number of works from the Estate of Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg are featured in the auction, among the best examples of Post-War & Contemporary Art on offer globally. Included in a list of the top 200 collectors in the world by ARTnews, the late couple had extraordinary taste and a profound passion for art that is mirrored in these works—and in their collection as a whole. Two exceptional examples by Jean Paul Riopelle lead the grouping; they will be offered alongside works by Paul-Émile Borduas, Guido Molinari and others. The Steinbergs were remarkable human beings, renowned across Canada for their contributions to the community, their leadership and their philanthropy.

Highlights from the Heffel Spring 2019 Auction

  • Henri Matisse, one of the most important artists of all time, leads Heffel’s spring auction with Femme assise sur un balcon. The 1919 work is the first major canvas by Matisse offered at auction in Canada (est. $3,800,000 – 5,800,000).
  • Ten magnificent works from the Estate of Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg, revered Canadian philanthropists, are led by two museum-quality masterpieces by Jean Paul RiopelleIncandescence and Carnaval II (each est. $1,500,000 – 2,500,000), and an untitled canvas from Paul-Émile Borduas’s sought-after black and white period (est. $300,000 – 500,000).
  • Consigned from the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario are three special works by A.Y. Jackson, including the major canvases Laurentian Hills (est. $250,000 – 350,000) and Red Cedar (est. $125,000 – 175,000). The works present an opportunity for collectors to bring home a piece of Canadian history with significant museum and prior private collection provenance.
  • Works by Jack Bush have seen increased international interest and market activity in recent years, including Heffel’s record-breaking sale of Strawberry in 2018. Leading three works on offer by the renowned Colour Field painter is Across and Down (est. $400,000 – 600,000)a large-scale canvas that represented Canada at the IX Bienal de São Paulo in 1967.
  • Lawren Harris shines this season with Coldwell, Lake Superior (Lake Superior Sketch CXXXIX) (est. $250,000 – 350,000), the Group of Seven period work consigned by the Women’s Art Association of Canada, as well as an energetic abstract canvas titled LSH #26 (est. $100,000 – 150,000), recently included in the touring exhibition Higher StatesLawren Harris and His American Contemporaries.
  • The Post-War offering features excellent examples by many distinguished artists from outside of Canada. Among the highlights are Fernando Botero’s Girl Reading Her Diary (est. $300,000 – 500,000), Chu Teh-Chun’s Bleuté (est. $175,000 – 225,000) and Asger Jorn’s Promenade des amoureux (est. $250,000 – 350,000).
  • Another first for the Canadian art market is a small but powerful canvas by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Paysage et maison, Cagnes was painted at Renoir’s family home in the picturesque French Riviera (est. $100,000 – 150,000). Consignor proceeds from the sale of this lot will benefit the United Way of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver.
  • Six more Jean Paul Riopelle canvases round out an extensive group of works by the Automatist painter, each from a coveted period in his career. Riopelle’s work was recently on view in the international exhibition Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, proudly supported by Heffel, presented at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Art Gallery of Ontario and Fonds Hélène et Édouard Leclerc in Landerneau, France.
  • Emily Carr’s paintings are rare to the market and continue to fetch impressive results at auction. Telegraph Bay and Stump in Forest are both quintessential, dynamic works on paper that epitomize Carr’s love for the British Columbia landscape (est. $250,000 – 350,000 and $80,000 – 100,000, respectively).

To give interested buyers an opportunity to view these works, the collection will be previewed in Toronto from May 25 to 28 at Design Exchange.

The two-session live auction will take place on May 29 at Design Exchange (The Historic Trading Floor, 234 Bay Street): Post-War & Contemporary Art at 4 p.m. and Canadian, Impressionist & Modern Art at 7 p.m.

For more details, visit

Photo: Henri Matisse, one of the most important artists of all time, leads Heffel’s spring auction with Femme assise sur un balcon (est. $3,800,000 – 5,800,000). (CNW Group/Heffel Fine Art Auction House).

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