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Emily Carr, J.P. Lemieux work auctioned in Vancouver

05/17/2012 06:15 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 05:12 EDT

A painting by Quebec artist Jean Paul Lemieux sold for $1.55 million and a work by Emily Carr went for $1.4 million at the Heffel spring auction in Vancouver Thursday night.

Lemieux's La plage américaine had been valued at $500,000 to $700,000, and was being offered following Heffel's historic fall sale of the Quebec artist's nostalgic Nineteen Ten Remembered.

Carr's Eagle Totem, valued prior to the auction at between $600,000 to $800,000, is described as "one of the rarest treasures in Canadian art," auction house vice-president Robert Heffel told CBC News.

Carr painted Eagle Totem in 1930, around the time she began associating with contemporaries like the Group of Seven and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Paintings and works by Edwin Holgate and Lawren Harris were also on the block at the auction.

The Harris sketch Lake Superior, estimated at $400,000 to $600,000, was offered by a British collector and sold for $450,000.

But Great Bug Pond, Cache River, a canvas by "Eighth" Group of Seven member Edwin Holgate, painted in 1939 and estimated at $600,000 to $800,000, did not meet its reserve price and was not sold.

Though Carr's West Coast artist's paintings on paper turn up regularly at auction, most of her oil-on-canvas works from this key period are in the collections of museums and art institutions, Heffel said.

Another notable Carr work, the watercolour War Canoes, Alert Bay, which carried a pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $500,000, drew a price of $300,000.

So far this spring, auctions in New York recorded a host of headline-grabbing, record-setting prices, including for Edvard Munch's The Scream, Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow and Vancouver photographer Jeff Wall's Dead Troops Talk.

A Tom Thomson painting bought at a garage sale for $100 sold for $110,000 at the Maynards auction in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Following Heffel's event on Thursday, the Canadian auction season continues with Sotheby's Canada and Joyner sales next week in Toronto.

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