Auctions Market Canada

Emily Carr sets auction record for a Canadian woman artist

The British Columbia-born painter’s work makes $3m in Toronto

Emily Carr's The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase), around 1928-30, sold to an anonymous buyer for $3m

It was ladies’ night in Toronto on 28 November, when a painting by Emily Carr topped $3m (C$3.39 million, including 17% buyer’s premium, est C$1.2m-C$1.6m.) at Heffel Fine Art, setting a new record for a Canadian woman artist at auction. The painting is also the fourth highest price reached in Canadian auction history.

“It’s one giant leap for the Canadian art market,” said the auctioneer David Heffel when, after a prolonged bidding session, he hammered down The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase), around 1928-30, to an anonymous buyer.

The work, donated to the historic Vancouver Club by the lumber baron H.R. MacMillan, is based on an earlier painting, Indian Community House, 1921, which is in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Carr, who was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871, is known for depicting the life and culture of the First Nation people in the Pacific Northwest.

The work helped the auction house set an overall sale record of C$13.5 million, “far surpassing pre-sale expectations”, it said in a press release.

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