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Who was
Clara Isabella Harris

Now that I had Clara’s paintings I needed to develop her profile.  I had some of the information that Clara had told my mother but that was in the 1970’s.  My mission was to establish her identity and worth.  Canadians even with a small amount of information are familiar with the Group of Seven painters.  The original group consisted of seven men. But who was Clara Isabella Harris? 


Clara was born in 1887 and died in 1975. She had attended The Art Institute of Chicago, the Ontario College of Art and its Summer Art School in Port Hope.  She had received instruction from artists who had influenced or worked with the Group of Seven, Clara applied their “plein-air” method of sketching and painting to her work, travelling and painting on location in all seasons.  She was a prolific painter with more than three hundred known works. She carefully recorded locations, dates, times and weather conditions on the backs of the canvases.  She married Frederick W. Harris, a commercial artist, and had no children. Clara painted on location throughout Canada and the U.S.   

The information I had collected so far was minimal. I needed a more systematic way to collect the data.  So in October 2010 Clara’s website was launched.  I had no idea how large this project would become…..

Self portrait painted as a student.

Like the majority of her contemporary female artists, Clara was well educated, highly skilled and exhibited her work.  But her gender was her handicap: the Canadian art world was primarily reserved for men. Sadly most of the female artists’ work piled up in closets, was never seen, remained unknown and consequently was undervalued.

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