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 Lloyd Branson  (1854 - 1925)

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Lived/Active: Tennessee/New York / France      Known for: southern politician portraits, genre, figure, narrative painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Lloyd Branson
Facts/Data
Birth
1854 (Knox County, Tennessee)
 
Death
1925 (Knoxville, Tennessee)

Lived/Active
Tennessee/New York / France

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Often Known For
southern politician portraits, genre, figure, narrative painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Enoch Lloyd Branson (1854–1925) was an American artist best known for his portraits of Southern politicians and depictions of early East Tennessee history. One of the most influential figures in Knoxville's early art circles, Branson received training at the National Academy of Design in the 1870s and subsequently toured the great art centers of Europe. After returning to Knoxville, he operated a portrait shop with photographer Frank McCrary. He was a mentor to fellow Knoxville artist Catherine Wiley, and is credited with discovering twentieth-century portraitist Beauford Delaney.

Branson was born in what is now Union County, Tennessee (then part of Knox County) to English parents. Around the time of the Civil War, a Knoxville physician named John Boyd noticed a sketch of Ulysses S. Grant Branson had made on a cigar box, and suggested Branson's parents send him to Knoxville for academic training. In 1871, Branson drew favorable attention for his exhibition at the East Tennessee Division Fair.

Branson moved to New York in 1873, where he attended the National Academy of Design. Two years later, he captured first prize at one of the Academy's exhibitions, which earned him a scholarship to receive further training in Paris (some of Branson's later work showed elements of the French Barbizon school). By 1876, he had returned to Knoxville, and quickly became a leading figure in the city's art community. He painted fellow Knoxville artist Adelia Armstrong Lutz in 1878, and became a regular at the masquerade balls attended by the city's elite at the Lamar House Hotel. Branson won the gold medal for an exhibition at the 1885 Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta.

In 1889, Branson and photographer Frank McCrary formed Branson and McCrary, a portraiture company that operated out of a three-story building on Gay Street in Knoxville. The company specialized in oil-painted photographs, oil copies, crayon-and-oil sketches, and illustrated souvenirs. Branson also taught art classes in the building, often to members of Knoxville's upper class. Impressionist Catherine Wiley was arguably his most well-known student during this period.

Branson reached the height of his career in 1910, when his work, Hauling Marble, won the gold medal at Knoxville's Appalachian Exposition. In the early 1920s, Branson began giving lessons to a young Beauford Delaney, whose sketches he found impressive. In 1924, he arranged to send Delaney to an art school in Boston to receive further instruction.

Branson died suddenly on June 12, 1925. He is buried in Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville.

Branson was a sylistically conservative painter. Most of his work consisted of commercial portraits, but his most well-known tend to depict historical scenes of the Appalachian frontier.

His work is on display in the Tennessee State Museum and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, and the Knoxville Museum of Art, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, and the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville. One of Branson's most popular paintings, The Battle of King's Mountain, was displayed in the Hotel Imperial in Knoxville, and was destroyed when the hotel burned in 1917.

Historical paintings
    •    Sheep Shearing Scene
    •    The Blockhouse at Knoxville, Tennessee
    •    Assault on Fort Sanders
    •    Women at Work, 1891
    •    California to Oregon Stagecoach, 1900
    •    Hauling Marble, 1910
    •    Gathering of Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals
, 1915

Branson painted portraits of the following individuals:
    •    Adelia Armstrong Lutz (1878)
    •    Brig.Gen. John Porter McCown, C.S.A., c. 1880
(attributed)
    •    Ellen McClung Berry
    •    Horace Maynard
    •    George Armstrong Custer, Lt. Col., Regular Army
(United States)
    •    Abram Jones Price
    •    J. G. M. Ramsey
    •    Thomas William Humes
    •    Joseph Estabrook
    •    DeWitt Clinton Senter
    •    Peter Turney
    •    Alvin C. York
    •    John Haywood
    •    John I. Cox
    •    James B. Frazier
    •    Montgomery Stuart
    •    Hester Thompson Stuart
    •    James Allen Smith
    •    Captain James N. Williamson (age 22), Company F. 38th N.C. Regiment, Confederate States of America, ca. 1916


Legacy
Branson Avenue in Knoxville is named in Branson's honor. His house still stands along the road, and has been included in the "Fragile Fifteen" list by the preservation group, Knox Heritage.

Source:
"Lloyd Branson", Wikipedia, //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Branson (Accessed 11/22/2013)


Biography from The Johnson Collection:
Born in rural east Tennessee, Lloyd Branson was a child prodigy whose early promise led to study at the University of Tennessee beginning in 1870 and later instruction at the National Academy of Design, where he was awarded the school’s highest honors in the antique school of drawing. With funds from that prize, Branson made a study tour of Europe in 1875-1876. A subsequent European sojourn led to the exhibition of the artist’s historical genre paintings at the Paris Exposition of 1878. Branson’s advanced training and European experiences exposed him to national and international trends in the art world far surpassing that of many of his Southern contemporaries.

Upon his return from Europe, Branson formed a partnership with the Knoxville photographer Frank McCrary, with whom he won a first prize for their entry in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. After the turn of the century, he began painting portraits of prominent figures on a commission basis, works that were deeply influenced by photography—the subjects set against dark backgrounds and posed as though gazing at a lens. It was also around this time that Branson executed a series of monumental paintings depicting specific events in the history of rural free mail delivery.

At least four of these works, some as large as six by eight feet and characterized by the grainy texture and tonalist color values of American art in the Barbizon mood, survive in the collection of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Another large work, The Battle of King’s Mountain, was destroyed by fire in 1916. Widely admired locally, the painting was one of a series of historical genre works which also included United States Barracks at Knoxville and Gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals.

Active in Knoxville art groups, Branson offered art lessons and nurtured the careers of several local artists, including Ida Jolly Crawley and Catherine Wiley whose works are also represented in the Johnson Collection. As Tennessee’s most famous artist, he was commissioned in 1924 to paint the state’s legendary hero, Sergeant Alvin Cullum York, one of the most decorated soldiers in World War I. Still Life with Peaches is unique in the artist’s oeuvre and especially demonstrative of his painterly skills. In it, Branson focuses upon the spontaneous spilling of fresh fruit from a rough hewn basket, a display enhanced by closely applied color a strong sense of texture.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina


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