SOLD! for $24,780.00.
(Note: Prices realized include a buyer's premium.)
- Low Estimate: $6,800.00
- High Estimate: $8,400.00
- Realized: $24,780.00
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Pair of Tennessee portraits by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl (1788 – 1838) depicting the Reverend Hardy Murfree Cryer (b. 1792–1846), in dark coat with ruffled collar, and a woman believed to be his first wife Elizabeth Rice Cryer (b. 1793–1832) in black mourning dress with white lace collar and cap. Housed in black and gilt wooden frames. Both portraits measure 26 1/2″ H x 21 1/2″ W sight; 33″ H x 28 1/2″ W framed. Circa 1830. Provenance: Descended in subject’s family to current consignor. Biography ( Courtesy of James C. Kelly, Virginia Historical Society, Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 1998): Ralph E. W. Earl was the son of Connecticut painter Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Earl studied under his father in Northhampton, Massachusetts, before traveling to London in 1809 to study under Benjamin West and John Trumbull. In 1817, Earl arrived in Nashville to paint General Andrew Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans. Later that year, in Natchez, he met and married Jane Caffrey, Rachel Jackson’s niece. She died the next year, but Earl moved into the Hermitage would from then on remain in Jackson’s circle, accompanying the newly elected president to Washington. During the next eight years, Earl turned out numerous paintings of Jackson. Politicians, especially Democrats, knew it “did not hurt to order a portrait of General Jackson from Earl.” He painted many of Jackson’s friends and a few of his foes. Earl returned to the Hermitage with Jackson in 1837 and died there in September 1838. Rev. Cryer was a close friend of Andrew Jackson who spent time at the Hermitage. According to the book “The Making the American Thoroughbred” (see book, also offered in this auction), Cryer was born in North Carolina in 1792, married Elizabeth Rice in 1812, was a member of the Tennessee Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church 1813-1816, and served one year on the Nashville district. “After withdrawing from the itinerant ranks, he served as a “local” preacher and continued to exercise the offices of a minister the remainder of his life. His many contributions to The Turf Register and The Spirit of the Times are rich in Biblical and classical allusions, after the style of that day; show much force and originality; and amply support the statement of McFerrin that he was of an ardent temperament and had a brilliant mind. His ardor distinguished him as a breeder no less than as a preacher. He kept more thorougbred stallions than any man of his time, except, perhaps, Thomas Alderson; owned a few blood mares; and took a great interest in turf sports.” The book quotes stud books kept by Cryer which show that “Cryer’s horses were patronized by practically all the prominent breeders and turfmen named heretofore in this volume, from Andrew Jackson and John Catron, down”. Cryer’s passion for horses seems to have gotten him into trouble only once with his church; he was charged with horse racing and summoned to a trial before a church tribunal. “The proof was clear and conclusive,” wrote J.R. Hubbard in The Spirit of the Times, “but the evidence showed that the horse was raced in the name of Col. George Elliott, and that this gentleman owned one half of him.” In Cryer’s defense, he told the judge: “I would like for you to let me know how I can arrange it for my half of the horse to stand in the stable while Col. Elliott’s half is racing.” He was acquitted. CONDITION: Blacklighting of portrait of Rev. Cryer indicates inpainting to perimeter of face including the left edge of forehead, lower right jaw line, spot to lower left edge of mouth and spot to the middle of the chin. Lighter area of fluorescence to forehead and background, possibly a varnish issue. Blacklighting of Mrs. Cryer indicates possible inpainting or varnish issue to a couple areas of forehead and chin. Possible inpainting or varnish issue to a couple areas of the background. Older relining, probably late 19th/early 20th century.