A Roadshow Moment for Bonhams and Christmas for an Owner

Picture Bought for Its Frame in Devon Sells for $78,000 at Bonhams Canadian Art Sale

"The picture was brought to us after it was purchased for its frame at a local Devon auction," said Charles Lanning. Photo: Bonhams.
TORONTO.- A stunning watercolour of Canadian Indian totems sold at Bonhams in Toronto last night (29.11.10)for $78,000 (Canadian dollars), completing a huge roundtrip that took the picture painted in Western Canada to the West Country in England, and then back to Canada.
Charles Lanning, Bonhams Regional Director in Devon, says: “The picture was brought to us after it was purchased for its frame at a local Devon auction. When the buyer took it home he researched the artist and felt it might be more interesting than he had realized. We decided to sell this charming watercolour painted by Walter J Phillips, titled The Hoh-Hok Houseposts at Karlukwees, in our Canadian Art Sale. It was the obvious place to sell as the artist has a reputation in North America. This is just another example of Bonhams international reach. The client is delighted with the result, especially as he only paid a few pounds for something priced to sell for its frame.”
Writing in Wet Paint his unpublished manuscript on watercolour technique, Phillips was taken with the village Karlukwees "...never have I seen a more delectable sketching ground....I regretted leaving the coast, and I long to return." Painted in the late 1920's, while travelling on the Pacific Coast, this watercolour would be translated into the second wood engraving in his 1930 portfolio, An Essay in Woodcuts.
The picture was used on the front cover of the Bonhams catalogue for the Canadian Art Sale.