Clara Hagarty was born in 1871. She studied both in North America and abroad. She studied with Sydney Strickland Tully and E. Wyly Grier in Toronto, spent summers at the William Chase School in Long Island, NJ, under Merson, Castelucho and Caro-Delvaille in Paris and also in Holland.
In the late 1890's she returned to Canada, and was elected to the Ontario Society of Artists by 1899 and the Royal Canadian Academy in 1904. At this time, portraits and interiors were Hagarty's typical subjects, however she is best known for her floral paitnings. She often worked with pastels.
During the First World War, Hagarty traveled to London, England, where she worked for the Red Cross.After the war, Hagarty became a record keeper for the Art Gallery of Toronto where she worked until 1928.
In Toronto during the late 1930's, Hagarty exhibited frequently at Eaton's and at the Mellors Galleries. Some of her portraits were also shown at the Pan American Exposition in 1901 and at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.
Toronto remained her home, but Hagarty frequently traveled to Europe, often sending work home for the annual Royal Canadian Academy and Ontario Society of Artists exhibitions.
She died in 1958.