Thomas Bartley was born in Jefferson County, Ohio in 1812. He graduated from Jefferson College, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree (now Washington & Jefferson College at Washington, Pa.). He studied law in Washington, D.C., and after admission to the bar settled into a practice in Mansfield, Ohio in 1834. In 1838 he was elected to the post of Attorney General of the State of Ohio, and later appointed to the post of United States District Attorney. His Ohio legislative career encompassed one term in the House of Representatives and four terms in the State Senate. He was serving as Speaker of the Ohio Senate in 1844 at the time when Governor Shannon resigned. This advanced Bartley to the position of governor. He remained in office until his father was elected to the Governorship later that year. 1851 saw his election to the Supreme Court of Ohio. After two terms there, he returned to practice law in Cincinnati. Bartley died in Washington, D.C. in 1898.
John Henry Witt (Witte) was born in Indiana near the Ohio River town of Dublin, and during his youth worked as a machinist and Wagon Painter for his uncle's agricultural supply firm. Witt relocated to Columbus after a time of study with J.O. Eaton in Cincinnati, the year was 1862. J.O. Eaton had gained the reputation of being one of the most talented figures and portrait painting. John Witt was a very active artist in the Central Ohio, painting portraits of many of the leading families therein. He also was a noteworthy teacher, his students included some of the foremost regional artists of the day. Silas Martin, James Mosure, and Philip Clover were some of the standouts. Witt took an active role in the affairs of the Capitol city and is the artist of record for a significant number of the Ohio governor's portraits in this collection. The year 1873 finds Witt in Washington painting portraits of General Sherman, Senator Sherman, Judge Swayne, and Charles Sumner. He was a member of the Literary Club of Washington, D.C. In 1878 he moved to New York City where he was met with great success, becoming one of the top society artists of the day. Witt was enrolled as an associate member of the New York Academy of Art in 1887.