Lemieux's La plage americaine beats estimate by 159% in Vancouver

Jean Paul Lemieux's 1973 work La plage américaine (1904-1990) was the highlight of a Vancouver, Canada art auction on May 17.

The oil on canvas, completed in 1973, sold for CDN$1.8m, beating its CDN$700,000 estimate by 159% - the second highest price ever achieved for a Lemieux.

Lemieux painting
Lemieux’s La plage américaine spoke to the Soviets

"One has to remember that this painting was presented in 1974 in Russia - still the USSR at the time - where a subject like La plage américaine could not be seen as neutral," the auction house wrote prior to the sale.

"The feeling of absolute freedom given by the child running with his kite in the background could not have escaped the Moscow, Leningrad or Prague visitors who saw the painting.

"One can only imagine the effect of such a scene on the mind of the Russian or Slavic visitors who at the time were used to living in cramped conditions in small apartments shared by too many people."

Lemieux's Le mois de juin also appeared at the auction. Completed in 1964 and depicting a farmer in front of a grey sky, it sold within estimate for CDN$380,250.

Compatriot Emily Carr's Eagle Totem from 1930 sold for CDN$1.6m, at the sale, which achieved CDN$14.7m in all.

Meanwhile, JEH Macdonald's Early Autumn, Montreal River, Algoma, and Lawren Harris's Lake Superior sketch both made $526,000, further cementing the credentials of the Group of Seven at auction; a Tom Thomson artwork with a life story almost as bizarre as that of the artist, sold for $110,000 earlier in the week.

Bidding is well under way at PFC Auctions, which is offering its own superb range of investment-grade art

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