Nell Mary Bradshaw

Bella Coola Grave Box, 1970

oil on board

20 × 24 in

 24 x


 60.96 x



plus shipping & taxes

About the work

The vibrant hues of the highly textured and painterly Bella Coola Grave Box highlight both the favoured subject matter and the artistic skill for which Bradshaw was recognized. Sun washes in from the top left of the artwork to cast a rose-coloured sheen on the regal raised beak of the carved eagle as it gazes toward the light. The sun glints as well off the tops of the houses, emerging alongside towering pines from the abstracted mists of the lower half and the wooden grave box affixed to the eagle’s head. This oil painting is an artistic representation of the very sculpture from which it takes its name –  a monument carved to commemorate the dead at a grave site in Bella Coola Valley in northern British Columbia.

Medium Painting
Signature Signed
Frame Framed
Condition good
Seller Private
Location Vancouver, Canada
Provenance American Museum of Natural History; Maynards Fine Art & Antiques, lot 69, Oct 18, 2017; Private Collection, Vancouver.

Nell Mary Bradshaw


Primarily a self-taught artist, Nell Bradshaw also took classes from H.G. Glyde and Molly Lamb Bobak at the Victoria Art Gallery, and received additional instruction from Duncan de Kergommeaux and Herbert Seibner. Her early work was influenced by the Group of Seven, in particular that of A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson. Later, she received inspiration from the work of Paul Klee, Vincent van Gogh, Jack Shadbolt, and West Coast First Nations carvers.

In 1964, after the death of her husband, Bradshaw devoted herself to painting on a full-time basis. Interested in recording Haida culture, she made several trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1970s. Her totem paintings became well known worldwide, and British Columbia provincial anthropologist Wilson Duff considered her totem works to be of the highest calibre. Humphrey Davy, in the Victoria Times in 1964, said of her totem paintings that, “she draws them as they are today; weather beaten, decaying and ready to topple over…but what lifts her paintings above the ordinary, is the feeling and mood she gives to her pictures. Sometimes the mood is almost tragic because it brings to the fore the passing of a glorious age of native culture.”

After living in Victoria, BC since the 1960s, Nell Bradshaw passed away in 1997 at the age of 93.


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