Bear and Halibut, 1980
Painted wood, signed and dated on base
47h x 15.2w x 15.8d cm
Courtesy Uno Langmann Ltd
Henry Hunt is a celebrated Northwest Coast Indigenous artist. Born in Fort Rupert in 1923 and descended from distinguished Tlingit linguist and ethnographer George Hunt, he is hailed today as an ambassador of Kwakwaka’wakw culture. He apprenticed under Mungo Martin at Thunderbird Park, a site owned by the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria that presents Northwest Coast First Nations art, and in 1962 assumed the prestigious role of Master Carver, with his son Tony as his chief assistant.
During his tenure at Thunderbird Park from 1954-1974, Hunt realised numerous high-profile commissions, including a ceremonial monument for the Canada Pavilion of Expo ’67, as well as a remarkable 9.75 metre totem pole erected in 1970 at Alert Bay, BC in memory of Mungo Martin. Among his most auspicious carvings are the exclusive presentation poles that the Government of British Columbia commissioned from Hunt as gifts for visiting dignitaries, including Lyndon Johnson, Lester Pearson and Queen Elizabeth II. These specially-ordered totems were heavier and taller – about eighteen inches – than commercially available “tourist” carvings.
Bear and Halibut is emblematic of Hunt’s acclaimed masterworks. Created in 1980, this intricate carving maintains the craft and artistry of Hunt’s presentation poles. Hewn from a single piece of wood, the sculpture balances rugged and spontaneous elements with the artist’s legendary finesse. Hunt’s sought-after works rarely appear on the market.