Painter Clara (née Chaje Esther) Klinghoffer was born into a Jewish family in Szerzezec (now Lemberg), a village near Lwów (now Lviv), in Polish Galicia, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Ukraine) on 18 May 1900. She moved to England with her family at the age of three, settling first in Manchester, before moving to London’s East End. She drew from a young age, briefly taking classes at the John Cass Institute in Aldgate in 1914, before moving to the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Duncan Grant and Bernard Meninsky (1915–18) - the latter famously declared 'Good Heavens! That child draws like da Vinci' and she quickly established a reputation as the new ‘girl genius’, gaining a bursary to the Slade School of Fine Art (1918–20) under Prof. Henry Tonks. While still a student, recommended by Alfred Wolmark, she held her first exhibition at the Hampstead Art Gallery in 1920. Further solo exhibitions at prestigious London galleries followed: the Leicester Galleries, London (1923, 1932), the Redfern Gallery (1926, 1929, 1938) and Godfrey Phillips Galleries (1929); she also exhibited with the Goupil Gallery salons – where her drawings, especially studies of women and children (often based on her six sisters) were frequently likened to Raphael – as well as with the New English Art Club (NEAC), the London Group, the Women’s International Club, the Royal Academy and the Carnegie International. In 1923 and 1927 her work was included in exhibitions of ‘Jewish art’ at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (although she disliked this label).

In 1926 she married Dutch journalist Joop Stoppelman and moved with him to Paris in 1928. Following her solo exhibition in Amsterdam in 1928, they moved to Holland with their children in 1930. She continued to show at the NEAC in London, becoming a member in 1933; in 1935 her painting 'The Girl in the Green Sari' was shown at Ben Uri, having been acquired for the Ben Uri Collection (the first work by a female artist to enter the permanent collection) the same year (her work was subsequently included in exhibitions in numerous exhibitions from 1946 onwards). In 1939, aware of the imminent threat of German invasion, the family moved again, this time to America, settling in New York, where Klinghoffer held solo exhibitions in 1941, 1951 and 1958. In her later years, however, her work suffered from the decline in demand for figurative painting; her final solo show was in Mexico City in 1969. Clara Klinghoffer died in London, England on 18 April 1970. A private exhibition was held in London in 1972, with retrospectives at the Belgrave Gallery, London in 1976 and Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle in 1977. More recently, her work was included in two 2018 exhibitions rediscovering neglected female artists: 'Prize and Prejudice' (UCL) and '50 50: Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900-1915 (Mercer's Hall, London; and University of Leeds). She is represented in UK collections including Aberdeen Art Gallery, the British Museum, Kettle's Yard, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate.