Recently Wolfgang M. a resident of Alexandria (halfway between Ottawa and Montreal) contacted me. His mother who is the ripe old age of 101 owns this painting but would like to sell it. It’s oil on canvas, 14 x 17”, signed, titled and is in very good condition.
Clara’s Signature Back of Canvas: Clara’s Notation: Haliburton
Wolfgang wanted an estimate of its value. Here’s what I told him:
I'm not qualified as an appraiser. But it’s safe to say that I've seen more of Clara's paintings than anyone but Clara and her husband. There are various versions of this Haliburton scene but this close-up view of the buildings provides an excellent time capsule of an area altered by modernization. Particularly the house at the lower left-hand corner. This makes it more desirable. And to be as accurate as possible I consulted Steve Hill, Curator of the Haliburton Highlands Museum. https://www.dysartetal.ca/portfolio-view/museum/
He’s the “go to” person for historical Haliburton details:
Thankfully, concerning the photos of the Clara painting you just sent me happens to be a downtown view. It appears to have been made from the Highland Street hill, looking in a direction I would call S.W. The house at the L. of photo is 256 Highland Str.; the house at R. is 240 Highland Str. This latter house (i.e. 240) is the same one as shown in the Haliburton Village view we helped identify for you some time ago (i.e. “Winter in Haliburton, Ontario”). Due to the snow cover, Clara did not clearly define the roadways or the Drag River in this painting. Riverside Dr. runs alongside the house at L., perpendicular to Highland Str. Dysart Ave. (formerly Oak Ave.) also runs down perpendicularly to Highland Str.; the houses hidden in the tree at centre are on Dysart Ave. The Drag River (which runs between Riverside Dr. & Dysart Ave.) is the dark patch at the base of this tree. The buildings between the tree at L. & the tree at centre would be the cluster of buildings at or around the intersection of Maple Ave. & Mountain Str. These are the same buildings which appear in Clara’s painting “Sleigh Ride to the Village”. (Notice that Clara has inadvertently omitted the bell tower from our Town Hall in this cluster of buildings).
I hope this helps. Generally, anything in the Village can be identified. It is the rural Haliburton views that are difficult to pin down, since they are more often than not of a forested background setting.
All the best, glad to help!
P.S. – I would wonder if Clara made her paintings from sketches or photographs? If her photo album ever turns up & includes Haliburton views, we might be able to identify such as well. Just a thought to keep in mind.
As I don’t have any photos taken by Clara of the area I’m concluding (for now) that she worked from sketches.
Now that I had Steve’s information the next step was to obtain any additional details from Wolfgang’s mother, especially personal feelings about Clara’s painting. These sentiments give life to Clara’s work:
Hi, talked to mom to see what she remembered when she bought the painting. She said she bought it in Toronto but does not remember where. The reason she liked it was the winter scene which so reflected rural Canada. Having just emigrated from Europe it just reflected the wide open spaces to her.
And here’s some additional information re: value which I shared with Wolfgang:
The more that is known about Clara and her work through the website, exhibits and presentations the more the value of her work goes up. Here’s an example:
The other day a collector contacted me about a painting of Clara's that was priced at $145.00 on an auction site. https://maxsold.maxsold.com/auction/20743/item/painting-a-2007817
Readers might recognize this Port Hope scene. The original painting The Old Mill was exhibited in the 1930's and was priced at $100.00. (See November 26, 2019 Curator’s Blog, The Old Mill: A Case of Mistaken Identity). Today the original is hanging at the RiverBrink Museum, NOTL in the exhibit Clara Harris: Between City and Country. http://riverbrink.org/exhibitions/current-exhibition/ (Closed temporarily due to Covid-19 concerns). The painting on the auction site sold for $500.00.
If you’re interested in purchasing Wolfgang’s mother’s painting let me know and I’ll forward your information to him.