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Clara’s Grandniece Shares Her Paintings

Readers may remember Clara’s grandniece, Sue N who lives in Michigan, U.S. (See Curator’s Blog, “Clara’s Family”, Friday, May 24, 2013). Sue has provided us with her paintings and information.

Sue has given so much information in this description. First that Clara participated in the 1924 Ontario Society of Artists Annual Exhibition. There are catalogues on the website listing dates when Clara exhibited her work but this is new information. Although Sue doesn’t have the actual catalogue, archival research should reveal not just this event but others. So there’s lots more that needs to be done in this area. The catalogues are significant as they list Clara’s colleagues. And as we’ve seen from the catalogues on the site she kept “good artistic company”.

“This picture has a label on the back: Ontario Society of Artists Annual Exhibition 1924. Title: Marblehead something else that I can’t read. Price $65.00 Artist Name Clara J. Harris Address the address is crossed out and underneath is written

23 Clinch.

On the frame is

C Perry C Harris

87 Olive Ave. The picture is 16 x 24” the frame is

21 ½ x 30”.

Clara’s painting is Marblehead Neck, Massachusetts and is almost identical to one shown in the Summer Section of the website. The “J” in “Clara J Harris” was either a misprint for “I” for Clara’s middle initial Isabella, or was smudged and looked like a “J”. The address “23 Clinch St.” is 23 Valleyview Gardens. Clinch St. is the original name for Valleyview. The frame with “C Perry C Harris 87 Olive Ave” indicates that Clara owned the frame before she was married. Her maiden name was Perry. The address “87 Olive Ave” is either incorrect or she and Fred bought another rental house on Olive before moving to Valleyview Gardens. From Fred’s diary:

May 17, 1938 cleaned verandah woodwork at Olive Ave. Rebuilt steps. April 5, 1939 - Trimmed vine and cleared verandah at 82 Olive Ave.

“This picture is 14 x 20”. The title is Autumn in the Harbor. My Aunt wrote on the back 'a gift and an original painting. Clara Harris'. This was a gift for my wedding Nov. 7, 1964.”

Clara had a long association with Emily Louise (Orr) Elliott. They went on many painting expeditions together. As recorded in 1938 by Clara’s husband, Fred in his diary:

Aug. 14 Getting Clara’s things ready for her trip with Mrs Elliot Aug. 15Packing & sketching, material made ready for Clara’s trip Aug. 16Starting out like a fine day Clara feeling well and happy and on her way in good time Oct. 12Clara and Mrs. Emily Elliott off for Minden Both women painted scenes of Toronto Island, Ontario landscapes and flowers. If you look at Emily’s still life paintings you can see the strong resemblance between her’s and Clara’s. Emily 
could have been a mentor for Clara.

“There is nothing on the back of this still life painting. The dimensions are 20 x 24”.

When I first saw this painting its ethereal quality and wispy trees reminded me of “Richview Side Road, Toronto” (See , Collectors Gallery, Emanuel Yarimi ). The painting does resemble Clara’s favourite site by the Humber River but I’m not sure about the trees in the foreground. They look different than the trees she usually included. It’s hard to determine if there’s a grey building on the other side of the river. I’ve asked Sue if she can examine her painting more closely. If there is a grey barn then it could be Marx’s farm which was on the bank of the Humber River.

“There is nothing on the back of this painting. I believe it is the Humber River in Toronto. The dimensions are 20 ½ x 25”.

I believe this is Haliburton. Clara visited the area so many times in the winter, often with Emily Elliott. The yellow house at the right hand side of the painting looks very much like the one in Clara's "Winter in Haliburton" in the Winter Section of the website. She could have painted the scene from a different perspective or used some artistic license “borrowing” topography and buildings from other scenes. “There is nothing on the back of this painting but the dimensions are 20 x 24”.

This painting is so typical of Clara’s Ontario landscapes and illustrates the importance of documenting the backs of the paintings. Because it could be anywhere we can’t visit the site or determine how much it has changed.

“The dimensions of this painting are 14 x 17”. There are no other markings on it”.


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