National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

Out of State

Portrait #1795
Chambliss, Adelia Clarisa ("Clara") Neely
Artist:Hart, James
Date Created:Late 1855 or early 1856
Owner/Location:Private Collection
Frame Dimensions:38.5 x 33.5
Image Dimensions:29.5 x 24.5
Materials/Media:Oil on canvas
Date Documented:24 March 2009

Description: The subject is seated in a red chair, facing her right at a 45-degree angle. She is wearing widow's weeds in commemoration of the death of her husband Thomas Chambliss. Her headdress is white, indicating that more than a year had passed since his death. The gold chain around her neck is a piece of Victorian mourning jewelry, perhaps holding a lock of his hair. She is holding an Episcopal Prayer Book in her right hand. On her left hand is a diamond wedding ring.
History of Work: The owner thanks Monita Jones Carlin of Bolivar, TN, for some the the above observations, and to Mr. Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith of Jackson, TN, for suggesting that this lady was the object of the painting.

It was sold, at a shop in Memphis, around 1953. A man from Glendora, Mississippi, bought it, kept it for about 50 years, and then sold it to an antique shop in Greenwood, Mississippi, where current owner bought it in 2004. In 2008 the portrait was restored/conserved by S. Kaye Harrison of Coldwater, Mississippi.
Notes: Adelia Clarisa Neely Chambliss was the third child of Louisa Polk Neely (see Portrait No. 1794). Adelia was married three times, first to James G. Bell (1831, in Bolivar), then to Thomas Chambliss (September 7, 1853, in Bolivar), and finally to Col. John Pope of Shelby County (January 8, 1857, at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis). Adelia and perhaps all of her husbands were Episcopalians. Her portrait was painted about a year after the death of her second husband. She had no children by any of her husbands, and neither Bell nor Chambliss ever had children of their own. Bell and Chambliss are buried next to each other and with the same tombstone at Elmwood cemetery in Memphis. Bell's dates are 1802-1852; Chambliss' are November 2, 1810 to November 15, 1854. Adelia's dates are September 14, 1813 (born in Maury County, TN) to October 9, 1891 (died at her residence near Collierville). She was buried in Bolivar at Polk Cemetery, but Monita Jones Carlin, who has assisted in this research, has not been able to find a marker or a gravesite. John Pope lived from 1794 to 1865; he is buried at Elmwood.

The subject was a first cousin of James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the United States