LOT 135

1815 - 1872

Crossing the Mail at Quebec
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1861 and on verso titled and inscribed "C219" and "64-185" on a label
9 x 14 in, 22.9 x 35.6 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000 CAD

Sold for: $34,250

Preview at:

Laing Galleries, Toronto
A Prominent Montreal Estate

Cornelius Krieghoff was living in Quebec City in 1861, and here he depicts the transport of mail by canoe across the frozen St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence in winter was treacherous, with open stretches of freezing water and large expanses of uneven ice, heaved up into chunks. The efforts of many men were required to drag a canoe such as this over the ice, and here they are exhorted on by the gesticulating figure on the bow. At the back of the boat is the Red Ensign—an indication that the postal service provider was the Royal Mail, an assertion of British sovereignty at the time. In 1867, after Confederation, the post office was one of the first federal government departments formed, and it took over the postal service in April of 1868.

Krieghoff’s striking panoramic view is dominated by the sky, painted with softly modulated strips of coral, mauve and gold, created by the sun reflecting on atmospheric haze. The artist also showed his sensitivity to colour in the ice, tinted with cool greens and blues, and warm pink and mauve. Besides being a stunning landscape, Crossing the Mail at Quebec is a fascinating record of the challenges of everyday life during the winter in early Canada.

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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