LOT 101

1884 - 1963

Totems, Alert Bay
watercolour on paper
signed and on verso titled on the gallery labels, dated circa 1935 on the Masters Gallery label and inscribed "37"
10 x 14 1/2 in, 25.4 x 36.8 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000 CAD

Sold for: $157,250

Preview at:

Gainsborough Galleries, Calgary
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Savage
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Private Collection, British Columbia

Roger Boulet, The Tranquility and the Turbulence, 1981, page 97
Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole, Phillips in Print: The Selected Writings of Walter J. Phillips on Canadian Nature and Art, 1982, page 123

Walter J. Phillips traveled to the West Coast in 1927. Visiting Stanley Park in Vancouver, he saw Indigenous totem poles that had recently been erected by settlers, including one from Alert Bay. Determined to see more, he journeyed to Alert Bay, staying at the home of his sister. Phillips wrote, “In the long street of the native village there are two splendid house posts and one decaying pole,” likely the ones we see in this evocative image. As Phillips was gathering material for woodcuts and watercolours, he also visited the First Nations villages of Tsatsisnukomi, Mamalilicoola and Karlukwees. Phillips’s skill as a watercolourist was legendary – and Totems, Alert Bay is an exceptional example. West Coast images, particularly including totem poles, are rare and sought after, and Phillips’s depiction of this street is full of fascinating details, from the two native figures to the careful recording of the motifs of the totem poles.

A number of fine colour woodcuts resulted from this trip, including Jim King’s Wharf, Alert Bay (1927), The Waterfront, Alert Bay (1928) and Thunderbird, Alert Bay (1930).

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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