Pair of Middle Tennessee oil on canvas portraits, the subjects U.S. Representative from Tennessee Charles Ready and his wife Martha, both signed Sara Ward Conley (Tennessee, 1859-1944) and housed in matching elaborate ebonized frames with applied classical hand-carved decoration. Note: Both of these paintings were documented by the Tennessee Portrait Project in 2004. They are circa 1925 copies of originals (whose whereabouts are currently unknown). 1st item: three-quarter length portrait of Rep. Charles Ready, depicted with a gold-tipped cane in his left hand. A red drapery column is visible behind him. Signed at right. 35-1/2" x 28-1/2" canvas, 45" x 38" framed. 2nd item: three quarter length portrait of Martha Alvoid Strong Ready, wearing an evening dress with low neck. Her elbow rests on a chair and behind her is a draped window with landscape beyond. Signed lower right. 35" x 28" canvas, 33" x 37-1/2" framed. Note: Charles Ready was admitted to the bar in 1825 and commenced a law practice in Murfeesboro, the same year he married Martha Alvoid Strong of Knoxville. Ready served two terms as mayor of Murfreesboro. He was elected to the Tennessee legislature in 1835 and became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee's 5th Congressional District in 1853. He served until 1859, when he returned to Murfreesboro and became a judge. (In 1862, the Ready's daughter, also named Martha, married Captain John Hunt Morgan of Kentucky. Their wedding was one of the greatest social events of the Confederacy, but Morgan was killed in action less than 2 years later). Both Charles and Martha Ready died in Murfreesboro in the 1870s. Sara Ward Conley, a noted Nashville artist of the 19th and early 20th century, was born in 1859 to Dr. William and Eliza Ward. Her father founded Ward Seminary (a school for young women), where she was educated. Conley received scholarships to study art in Paris and Rome and later returned to Tennessee where she worked as an art teacher and painter of portraits and murals. in 1896 she was named architect of the Woman's Building for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. She also chaired the Centennial Arts Committee. A battle with typhoid fever left her confined to a wheelchair for the last 47 years of her life, but she taught art until her death in 1944. (Source: the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture). Condition: Martha Ready portrait: Areas of light flaking in the upper right quadrant near her ear, and in background and scattered minute flakes on her dress, yellowing of varnish, overall light craquelure. Charles Ready portrait: Black light examination reveals 5 inch by 5 inch area of professional restoration to left upper quadrant encompassing the subject's right ear and hair. Few small scattered abrasions to canvas. Canvas is backed with cardboard and has not been examined under cardboard. Both portraits have minor losses to the carved elements on the frames.
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