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Iconic piece of Canadian cultural history

This week we had the pleasure to examine and appraise a truly unique artwork. This large oil painting is a portrait of the Canadian comic book hero 'Nelvana of the Northern Lights' who was developed in the early 1940's. The well known artist of this piece, Adrian Dingle, was a member of both the Royal Canadian Academy and Ontario Society of Artists. He began his career as a comic book writer and illustrator before moving on to more conventional landscape scenes later in his career.

Nelvana of Northern Lights was a fictional comic book character who was created by Adrian Dingle in the early 1940’s. She was illustrated in various comic book publications from 1941-1947. According to the comic book mythology, the character possessed super powers including invisibility, telepathy and the ability to travel at the speed of light. She fought to protect the north and her people from evil, often against the Nazis and Axis powers of World War II. She grew in popularity to become an important cultural and nationalistic symbol of Canadian identity and pride. In 1995, Nelvana became one of five superheroes celebrated in a popular Canadian stamp issue, Scott #1581 (45¢ Nelvana, issued October 2, 1995).

Provenance - Private collection, Oshawa, Ontario. The painting was commissioned by Gordon Leitch of Upper Lakes Shipping who hung it in the bar room called the Nelvana Room on the SS Gordon. The painting was given to the current owner’s grandfather by Jack Leitch who was Gordon’s son.

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