Saint John auction of Miller Brittain works gets local $62K bid

An online auction with works from renowned New Brunswick artist Miller Gore Brittain received bids from across North America and Europe.

But, the successful bidder for the auction’s most valuable piece was a Saint Johner who will keep the rare painting in its home province. 

Liz Isaac, an antique appraiser who worked on the auction with Mario Brideau of Citadel Gallery, said the 1962 oil on masonite piece by Brittain, titled Portrait of Jennifer, sold for $62,000.

The piece depicts Brittain’s daughter at a young age. Isaac said it received a lot of interest with about five or six active bidders.

“You’re not going to see them come on the market that often and it’s an opportunity to buy a piece of history,” said Isaac.

“He was one of our best artists of that era to come out of here.” 

A Miller Brittain oil painting, titled Green Silence (Citadel Gallery)

Isaac said this was the gallery’s third online auction due to COVID-19, which has allowed a broader range of bidders to take part. 

“We had bidders from England, bidders from out west, we had bidders from Texas, we had bidders from Boston, and Ontario, Nova Scotia. It’s just that with online, it draws that broad range of interest,” she said. 

Another Brittain work, titled Green Silence, sold for $28,000. Isaac said it was an oil and masonite painting dated 1955.

“It sort of reflected family, but in a very contemporary, modernistic way,” said Isaac. 

Works sell well-over estimated value

Isaac said the gallery put together a booklet of nine Brittain sketches and one double-sided etching from the 1930’s. 

A booklet of nine Miller Brittain sketches sold for $5,500. (Citadel Gallery)

She said it received high interest and sold for $5,500. 

“These are just small five–by–seven inch little sketches and drawings,” she said.

“It was really nice.” 

The estimated value of the booklet, ranged from $2,500 to $3,000.

Two pastel works by Brittain, a medium that he commonly used in the 1960s, were also well-received.

Miller Brittain was known for pastel works in the 1960s. This is titled Flowers. (Citadel Gallery)

A 1966 pastel piece, titled Flowers, sold for $8,100 and a 1963 piece, titled Flowers and Reeds sold for $6,100. 

Both held an estimated valued at $3,000. 

A Christopher Pratt silk screen painting, titled The Raven, from 1996, sold for $16,000. 

Isaac said that was a “great price” for the Pratt piece, that had an estimated value between $4,000 and $5,000.