Canadian artist Emily Carr’s paintings hung in the Canadian high commissioner’s residence for almost 10 years. In a warm tribute, it sold in London last night for £2.37m ($3.28m), about double the high estimate.
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Emily Carr / The Light in the Window, 2011 – which was among the more than 250 lots of art on sale by Heffel auction house, had been put up for sale at a reduced price by the government of Canada, which says it no longer needs the property in London.
The house, Hill House in Westminster, has been used by the Canadian high commissioner for the past eight years and he has lived there. The Canadian government is considering its remaining properties in Britain and will continue to have property in Canada.
Emily Carr’s Abode on the Farm, 1946. Photograph: Heffel
Another Carr, Abode on the Farm, 1944 was also in the running for a place in the top price bracket. It sold for £1.3m, which is more than twice the high estimate, to an anonymous buyer.
Emily Carr’s Farm, 1944, for example, earned £203,000 ($315,000) in June 2002 and last night it was valued at £449,000 ($730,000).
The Heffel auction house was set up in 1988 with funds from the sale of a new generation of aristocrats’ summer homes on the Isle of Wight.
The Coppins family, which inherited Hill House in 1882, gifted it to the Ministry of Defence for use by the consular officials and their families.
In 2010 it was formally returned to the ministry and re-advised to be used by Canadian diplomats and their families living in London.
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Hill House is being sold because it is small, has problems with heating, carpets and floods and is located next to Westminster Abbey and Westminster tube station.
The Canadian high commissioner, Thomas Widdowson, said the auction of 37 Canadian paintings and two sculptures would “raise a significant sum to ensure the buildings and properties currently used by Canadians in the UK are preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy”.
The rooms in Hill House, and in other houses owned by the Canadian high commission, were largely emptied out and sold off in 2012, with much of the cash used to build a new diplomatic compound in a historic home in Regent’s Park.