Mannumi Shaqu, Mother and child, tending a qulliq, 1953-1954
8 x 5 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.
This lovely work is a reprise by Mannumi of his famous Mother and Child of 1951 which was presented to Princess Elizabeth during her first royal visit to Canada in November of that year. That version was published in James Houston’s booklet Canadian Eskimo Art (Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, 1954, p. 2). Interestingly, the work is carved from the attractive semi-translucent green stone used in Inukjuak. It had been discovered there in the early 1950s, so it’s possible that Houston had some on hand and offered it to Mannumi to carve. It is not known whether Houston specifically commissioned this subject from the artist, however. Although the subject is essentially the same, Mannumi made several changes to the composition, so the present work is not simply a copy but rather a reimagining of the original.
For years, the 1951 sculpture was attributed to Davidee Mannumi (1919-1979), also from Cape Dorset. In her research for the 2006 WAG exhibition Early Masters, Darlene Wight re-atttributed the work to Mannumi Shaqu, along with other sculptures that had been attributed to the other Mannumi. The section on Mannumi Shaqu in the Early Masters catalogue (pp. 162-167) illustrates several works of quite similar style.
References: See the section on the artist in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955, (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2006), pp. 162-167. See also Canadian Eskimo Art (Ottawa: Dept. of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, 1954), p. 2; see Ken Mantel et al., Tuvaq: Inuit Art and the Modern World, (Bristol, UK: Sansom and Company Ltd., 2010), fig 42, p. 52; Maria von Finckenstein ed., Celebrating Inuit Art 1948-1970, (Hull, QC: Canadian Museum of Civilization [CMC], 1999), pp. 124-125.