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Six Degrees of Separation Revisited

In the last Curator’s Highlight, “Six Degrees of Separation” I described in reference to the Clara community that “as the number of contacts and information expands the circle gets smaller”. This theory was reconfirmed February 20th when I received this message from “Lisa B.” “Hello, Just spent an hour reviewing your website. We have 2 Clara Harris oil paintings and 2 Frederick W. Harris (one watercolour and one oil). There are others in our family as well. My mom's aunt was an antique dealer in Toronto on Eglinton Avenue (Glass Chimney Antiques) for many years and that is where we acquired the paintings from. The paintings now are all in Saskatchewan/Manitoba. Shall I send you photos?” Collectors like Emanuel Yarimi (See Emanuel Yarimi in Collectors Gallery) and Les M. (See Tours September 2012, St Catharines, Ontario) had purchased Clara’s paintings at Mary Barker’s antique shop on Eglinton Ave. Could this be Lisa B’s great aunt? The answer: “Yes! She was Mary Barker. I guess you knew her or of her? Aunty Mary made sure we were all aware of Clara and told us how she painted/trained with the Group of Seven. ( Definitely a small world. I will photograph mom's pieces. I have also shared your email with my mom's sister – Sharon R. “ Sharon contacted me: “I was recently informed about your Clara Harris site by my niece Lisa B. She said you would be interested in pictures. I have 2 Clara Harris paintings, one watercolor by Frederick W. Harris and another painting that does not show the name on the bottom but it is very similar to the one my sister has which was signed by F. W. Harris. They all came from my Aunt Mary Barker from Toronto who was very generous with family who came to visit her and her antique shop. This one I am sending now is the second one I received from her. After visiting me and seeing where I had it displayed she told me the first one I chose was too small so I would need to have a larger one. This one is 20 x 24” and I have tried to capture the relevant details in the pictures.” Sharon’s photos and descriptions provide pertinent information:

Morning, Dorset Oct. 5, 1951 Oil on canvas board 20 x 24” Documentation by Artist Clara’s portrayal of this meandering country road is reminiscent of Buckhorn Road Between Bobcaygeon and Buckhorn Lake, Ontario. Afternoon, October 8, 1937. (See the last painting in the Autumn Section)

This photo shows not just Clara’s signature but an up-close view of her brush strokes and the riot of colour created by her choice of paints. Some collectors believe that Clara’s autumn scenes were her best.

The condition of the back of the painting.

Clara’s notation of the time and place.

Frame condition and measurements.

“This one has no name on the back and it measures 16 x 20". It was my original choice as I liked the boat on the lake”.

Clara's Signature

Because Clara did not identify the season or location of this painting it could be early spring or fall even though some of the leaves appear to be turning. Clara’s use of vibrant colours cannot be ascribed to a specific season. Her Church St., The Kingsway, Toronto, Ontario, Morning, May 16, 1934 illustrates this point. (See the Spring Section, fourth painting.)

The condition of the back of the painting.

Frame condition and measurements.


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