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To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

Establishing the monetary value of Clara’s art has been described in other parts of the site. In essence collectors drive the price and this is determined by knowledge of the artist’s work: Clara’s paintings are only valuable if her work is known. The work must be perceived to have value which means an established record of sales must exist. There needs to be movement in the market: the collector with the most paintings doesn’t necessarily win the big prize. Many players are needed in the game. Supply and demand is important: it’s always better to buy paintings with less common subject matter, signed and documented by Clara. For example known portrait paintings and scenes of British Columbia are fewer in number than some of her other scenes. This valuation “mantra” was recently challenged when I was contacted by Mr. D:

"Thanks for being part of such an insightful website on Clara Harris and her art work. I can see more and more people appreciating her work as it is more known. I like the fact that some of Clara's art came from the 1930's and that offers a unique look into the Ontario of the time. She really did get around for the day."

Then Mr. D. said that he had this painting of Clara’s: "This painting was acquired from an antiques estate buyer from the Oakville area. I think it may have been from an Oakville home."

My first impression was that it was a typical Clara scene with her trademark birch trees in the foreground and signature in the corner.

And the dialogue continued: "I would like to sell it for $149.00 as I am re-decorating. Please let me know if you would like it or if you would know of another collector who would be interested." The price was reasonable but to forgo the purchase of the painting for the sake of facilitating movement in the market seemed like the best decision. However the next bit of information tipped the scale: "This painting is titled - Back of Bruce Beach, Kincardine. It is 14 x 17 inches, an oil on canvas board; a charming painting of a spring day. "

With this added information the painting assumed more value. Up until this point there was only one documented scene of Bruce Beach which is in the Summer Section of the site: Summer at Bruce Beach, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario: Mr. D’s painting enhances this summer reverie: the viewer can imagine walking back from the sandy beach into the wooded section along the pathway by the birches.

Now I wanted the painting but I needed to be cautious, not greedy. I noticed that the matting on the frame was warped so the condition of the canvas needed to be addressed. The answer: "The matting on the frame isn't too noticeable - it only shows under certain light and angle."

Do I need to tell you the rest of the story? Well I succumbed. The painting is now part of the Clara collection and archive. And when an exhibit location is established for Clara’s works the two paintings will be enjoyed side by side and you’ll be invited.


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