Women in THI History: Portrait of a Surgeon by artist Etheldra Fraley Greening Jones

Many of you have seen the portrait of Dr. Cooley hanging outside the THI administrative offices, but did you know that it was painted by his aunt, the artist Etheldra Fraley Greening Jones (Mary Fraley Cooley’s sister)? 

The painting shows Dr. Cooley holding an issue of Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics (SG&O). The journal, founded in 1905 and known since 1994 as the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), was the primary journal for the surgical profession for many years and remains in the top 10 most influential surgery journals. Dr. Cooley coauthored his first article in SG&O in 1953 and published more than 1,400 articles in his lifetime. 

Dated 1963, the year following the founding of THI, the painting is modeled from an earlier photograph originally in the Cooley home and now in the THI Archives. Etheldra painted Dr. Cooley and his colleagues at THI several more times over the years, including a series of 3 paintings commemorating landmarks in heart transplant surgery and artificial heart implantation. These paintings are now on display in the Denton A. Cooley Lobby of the TMC Library along with the paintings by Bernie Fuchs, Howard Sanden, and Mary Cooley Craddock that used to hang at various locations in the Denton A. Cooley Building. Some of Dr. Cooley’s items are still in storage but are scheduled to be returned to the Denton A. Cooley Exhibit Room soon. 

 A painting of a person Description automatically generated with low confidence

The painting by Etheldra F. Greening was donated to THI by Dr. Charles Fraser and his wife, Helen Cooley Fraser. It hangs near the wooden Symbol of Excellence outside of Texas Heart Institute Executive Offices