Alex Colville


Alex Colville (1920-2013) is one of the titans of figurative Canadian art. Working across mediums, Colville is a revered painter, draughtsman, engraver, and muralist. He is one of the few Canadian artists whose auction record is above $2 million. 

Spending his life and career in Nova Scotia, Colville is renowned for his atmospheric depictions, frequently portraying his family, domestic animals, and scenes of Atlantic Canada. Despite the degree of familiarity throughout his oeuvre, his work is often characterized by a visceral sense of uneasiness and mystery.

This intimate study features two sheep in a rural setting, both perched up above the tall grass as they fixate on the viewer. Their strong gaze is ambiguous yet full of apprehension. Their mask-like faces heightens the mystery of this pastoral scene.   

Aside from the starkness of the sheep's wool, this study was completed in monochromatic sepia and demonstrates a much looser technique than Colville's typically controlled realism. 

If this image is familiar, the painting is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery (Ottawa). Furthermore a variation of this image was produced a limited edition lithograph.

This piece presents the rare opportunity to acquire an important and well-known study by one of Canada's most esteemed artists.    

Today, Colville's work is enjoyed internationally in collections of major institutions and galleries around the world including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen (Rotterdam), and the Museum Ludwig (Cologne).

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720 

"Study for Three Sheep" 

Canada, 1954

Ink and gouache

Initialed and dated on the front

Signed and dated on old matt, now on verso

8.75"H 11"W (sheet)

20.25"H 22.25"W (framed)

Very good condition.

Detailed provenance verso

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