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A Cache of Clara’s

January 29, 2015

With the holidays behind us a great way to start 2015 is with eight paintings by Clara and descriptions by their “new” owner, Christine:

Hello Ms. McLean,

I found your name as a curator for Clara Harris.  Recently, I acquired some paintings of Clara Harris, at a garage sale in Toronto, Ontario.  I have learned more about Clara and just love her work. Clara lived in my community in Etobicoke/Bloor West and also she enjoyed the Northumberland/Cobourg area. I now have 5 landscape paintings and 1 floral still life (quite large) painting by Clara.  All are framed, except the 2 smaller board paintings.
 

I only know that the previous owner lived on Glendonwynne, in the Bloor West area, and was very elderly when she passed away recently. The family was unaware that she collected art, and in particular Clara Harris. 
 

I enjoy all of these, as they remind me of Bloor West, and the South Etobicoke area.  I live in the Royal York/Bloor area, very close to the Humber River, which I believe may be the locales of the painting.
 

I was only guessing that the river views were of the Humber River. But looked a bit like the Cobourg or Port Hope area where I spend my summers. 
 

Here is a summary of the artwork that I purchased.  Enjoy... I appreciate the "softness" of the landscapes and that "moment" that our dear Clara captured on canvas!

 

Ahhh....enjoy

 

Lucky Christine.  Here’s her collection.

Red Maple

Oil on canvas board 20 x 24”.  Framed and in excellent condition. Signature on left.

 

As Clara did not document this painting Christine gave it the title Red Maple.  Some collectors believe that Clara’s autumn works were her best as her use of vibrant colours illustrates.

Two Girls Walking

Oil on canvas 14 x 17".  Framed and in excellent condition, Signature on right.

 

One of Christine’s favourites she titled Two Girls Walking
"I first bought this one as I just loved the “best friends” walking together on a fall day”.

 

Christine has an excellent “eye”. This painting is special as Clara did not typically incorporate people into her work: especially two women. The painting is similar to Clara’s Church St., The Kingsway, Toronto, Morning May 16, 1934 which is in the Spring Section of the site. In Christine’s Clara shows the backs of two female figures walking along a meandering path framed by trees with blue hills in the distance. In Church St., The Kingsway, the two people are on horseback riding along a meandering path also towards distant blue hills. Although the colour of the foliage in both paintings suggests autumn, Church St. was done in the spring. So it’s possible that the two girls were enjoying their walk with the promise of warmer days to follow.

Homestead in the Valley
Oil on canvas 14 x 17”. Framed
A small 1” rip on right side which is easily repairable otherwise in excellent condition.
Signature on left.

This painting is typical of Clara’s work in its composition and colours used.  If you compare it to Brown Horse in Pasture in the Autumn Section of the website although the landscapes are different the scenes have some similarities such as the barn on the left hand side.  As the painting has a small tear it’s fortunate that it wasn’t thrown away.

Royal York Road North

Oil on canvas board 16 x 20”. Framed. Excellent condition.  Signature on right. Documented by artist.

 

A painting with the identified location is always more desirable than one that is not.  There may be other versions of this scene but as Clara recorded the location, Royal York North, it has significance historically and environmentally.  The tire tracks in the snow suggest a winter excursion in the “countryside”.

From Fred’s Diary:
Jan. 10, 1938Clara and I out sketching by Royal York Golf Club

Clara also documented this scene of Bala, Ontario:

Bala,

Oil on canvas 16 x 20”. Framed. Excellent condition. Signature on right. 

Documented by artist.

 

We know that Clara travelled to Bala and painted in all seasons.  From other paintings of that location winter was a favourite.  See Bala Falls, Ontario, March 1,1946” in the Winter Section of the site. This required fortitude considering the type of transportation, accommodation, clothing, painting materials and significantly colder temperatures of that period.

 Here is one of Clara’s signature still life paintings: Cyclamen.

 

Clara typically included objects such as trays, vases, books, statues or animals. These details add interest and scale. The warm glow of the tray in the background lends an ethereal quality to the work. To see another of Clara’s cyclamen paintings, Cyclamen in Full Bloom go to the Still Life page.

 

Christine gave this painting the title of River View. (below)

This is typical of Clara’s work:  vibrant colours, water, well-defined riverbanks and smoky hills in the background.  The scene is reminiscent of Fall Foliage By the River, 1929 in the Autumn Section.

And last but not least is the eighth painting: Autumn Scene By River. (below)

This painting is another familiar composition of Clara’s: water, and the inclusion of various plants and trees in fiery tones.  It’s similar to Clara’s Grey Barn by Stream in Autumn in the November 10, 2010 Curator’s Blog.

Christine, thanks for sharing your recently acquired collection with us. And viewers there is the possibility that she might sell some of them.  If you’re interested contact me and I’ll forward your information to her.

River View

Oil on canvas board 14 x 17”.  Signature on right.

Autumn Scene By River
On canvas board 10  x 14”. Signature on right.

 



 

 

 

 

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