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“I’m Just Not Sure of the Beginning of the Word”

Recently Josh Carter sent me this email:

Hello, I came across a painting I believe to be a Clara Harris work. I was at an estate sale for an elderly man who had passed away. It was near the beginning of the sale and the house was very crowded with other deal seekers. When I was downstairs, that must have served as a rec room, I saw the painting sitting on the wall with some other artwork. The painting depicts a tree in a valley in Toronto. I’m just not sure of the beginning word. At first glance to me it resembled early impressionism with the vibrant colours similar to the Group of Seven, particularly Franklin Carmichael’s work. I was drawn to it and put it in the pile of other items to barter with outside. As to the price when I work it out with the total I paid for the lot I believe I paid between $1 - $5, which no matter what is a steal for any painting.

It looks as if it could be an early work as Clara’s style had changed later in her life when I browsed other paintings of hers online.

Tree in Humber River Valley

Clara’s signature

Back of canvas including frame

Then Josh provided additional photos that were clearer:

Humber Valley Toronto

Baby Point

And I’m glad he did as Clara’s notation “Humber River Valley” is typical but her “Baby Point” notation is unique.

I do not currently have it hung up. I am debating putting it next to some early photograph prints obtained at another estate sale by the Nova Scotian artist Wallace R. MacAskill of early Nova Scotia. Any information would be greatly appreciated as well as the value of the piece.

Here’s my response to Josh:

It's amazing just how many paintings of Clara's are still out there! I think you're right about her style and that this is one of her early paintings. The frame is probably original. I'm not an appraiser but have addressed some of the factors affecting value on the website.

I estimate the value to be between $250.00 and $300.00. However you should know that future exhibitions in Toronto, Georgetown and Queenston Heights will increase awareness of Clara's work and value.

Thanks Josh for sharing your information and contributing to Clara’s archive. As Josh has offered to participate in a future exhibit we will see his “Humber River Valley, Baby Point” in “real time.”

Close-up of Josh’s painting

Sometimes we are lucky when we are out treasure hunting……


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