|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Ezekiel Ashley Turner was born in Branch County, Michigan, January 4,
1854. He grew up on his parents’ farm on the north side of
Matteson Lake. |
Almost from the time he could hold a pencil or a piece of charcoal,
Turner loved to draw. He drew on barn doors, wagons and other
farm equipment. While attending Matteson country school, he drew
caricatures of his classmates and teachers. Although showing
obvious talent, the boy received no formal art training while growing
up. As a young man, Turner moved to Paw Paw, Michigan, where he
taught art classes.
Around 1880, Turner moved to Muskegon and found work in the lumber
business. He also continued his interest in art and opened a
portrait studio in the Torrent Block.
Turner’s work came to the attention of Charles Hackley. When the
new library was ready to open, Hackley asked Turner to paint the
dedication ceremonies. Turner accepted the commission and took
photographs at the dedication. Hackley paid Turner $5000 for the
project and advanced the full amount at once so Turner could go to
Paris to study art. Turner spent three years in Paris under the
guidance of noted French artist William Adolphe Bouguereau, painting
French scenes and characters.
In 1893, Turner returned to Muskegon, Michigan and began work on the
portrait of the library dedication. Turner intended to picture as
many of Muskegon’s prominent citizens as possible in the scene.
The finished work measured over 10 feet wide and 6 feet high, and
included the likenesses of 114 Muskegon personalities. In
February of 1897, the painting was formally unveiled in the upstairs
room of the Hackley Library. It now hangs in the main reading
room of the library.
Turner also painted several portraits of Charles Hackley and of Julia
Hackley, his wife. Portraits of each are currently displayed in
the Hackley House. A later portrait of Julia hangs in the Hackley
E. A. Turner died suddenly June 19, 1899, at just 45 years of age. He
was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the time of his death.
Written and submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Historian, Lansing, Michigan
Muskegon Museum archives. Taken from an article by Mr. Tom Carlson: “Three Local Artists.”
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