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LOT 139

Cornelius David Krieghoff
1815 - 1872

Hunters Returning in Winter Sunset
oil on canvas
signed, dated September 1858 and inscribed "Quebec" and on verso titled Indians Returning to Camp at Sunset on the Masters Gallery label, dated Sept. 1859 and titled on the Klinkhoff Gallery label and inscribed "GHC"
14 5/8 x 21 3/4 in 37.1 x 55.2 cm

Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000

Sold for: $121,250

Preview at:

Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal
Sold sale of Important Paintings, Drawings, Watercolours and Two Bronzes by Canadian Artists, Christie, Manson & Woods (Canada) Ltd., April 27, 1972, lot 82
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
By descent to the present Private Estate, Calgary

Hunters Returning in Winter Sunset is a stunning tableau scene of First Nations hunters, and an exceptional example of Cornelius Krieghoff’s work when he lived in Quebec City from 1853 to 1863. Krieghoff was well-acquainted with First Nations people while he lived there – he saw Mi’kmaq and Montagnais (Innu) peoples camped at Indian Cove on the Levis River and Huron First Peoples at the village of Lorette. Krieghoff also embarked on hunting and fishing trips that employed First Nations men as guides. Here he captures the scene in a seemingly naturalistic way – the men seem caught in a moment of realism, unaware of being “observed” by the artist. Actually, Krieghoff’s view is a highly romantic one – the scene is beautiful, the hunting successful, the men contentedly returning to their encampment with ease. There is no hint of any difficulty or potential danger present, although we can be certain there is. Krieghoff admires both the hunters' ability to survive and their nobility of character, untainted by the potential corruption of civilization.
Not only is this a record of these First Nations men and their ability to handle winter conditions and the challenges of the search for game animals for food, it is also a stunning landscape. Krieghoff’s fine European painting techniques are on full display here. The sunset is awe-inspiring – ranging in colouration from deep coral in the clouds where the sun almost burns through in a golden blaze to tinges of pink, flesh and mauve in the high cloud formations. There is even a vertical ray of light that shines upward, adding to the glory of the moment. These gorgeous colours make the sky even more blue in contrast – producing an icy and ethereal glow. Reflections in the lake below add another dimension to the striking sunset display. Krieghoff’s treatment of the snow is masterful – from the soft clumps covering the vegetation to the more icy coating on the ground – criss-crossed by shadow and the fading light of day. Fall colours are still present, radiant in the trees and bushes. Detailing is fine, from the carefully packed sled to the men’s clothing - even including a pipe - to the surrounding forest and rocky outcrops. In every way, Krieghoff’s Hunters Returning in Winter Sunset is a sublime, romantic work.

Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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