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Tennessee State Museum opens new exhibit “Celebrating a Life in Tennessee Art: Lloyd Branson, 1853 – 1925” July 1st

Tennessee State MuseumNashville, TN – The first major retrospective of Tennessee artist Lloyd Branson’s life, works of art, and legacy will open at the Tennessee State Museum on July 1st. The exhibition entitled, Celebrating a Life in Tennessee Art: Lloyd Branson, 1853 – 1925, was organized by the East Tennessee Historical Society and features more than 60 of Branson’s paintings which tell the remarkable story of the ambitions and achievements of the artist and his region.

There is no admission charge to the exhibit which will be on view in the museum’s Changing Galleries.

Gathering of Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals, 1915, oil on canvas. Collection of the Tennessee State Museum. (Portrait by Lloyd Branson)
Gathering of Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals, 1915, oil on canvas. Collection of the Tennessee State Museum. (Portrait by Lloyd Branson)

Born in what is now Union County in East Tennessee, Branson came of age in a community experiencing the wrenching transformation caused by the Civil War and the extraordinary growth that followed.

The young artist’s unmistakable talent created the opportunity for him to move to Manhattan to study at the National Academy of Design, where he honed his skills and won acclaim.

Branson later returned to a bustling Knoxville where he established a downtown art emporium with photographer Franklin B. McCrary, which provided him with a unique vantage point for both documenting and participating in the city’s growth.

Two of the Branson’s most famous paintings from the State Museum collection are included in the exhibit. The Gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals vividly captures the excitement of Tennessee’s Revolutionary past at the Battle of King’s Mountain. The last work of Branson’s distinguished career was a portrait of World War I hero Alvin York, which Branson regarded as one of his finest accomplishments and is normally on view at Military Branch of the Tennessee State Museum.

Branson painted numerous prominent figures in politics, business, and education, but some of his most heralded work portrayed “work” itself. His Hauling of Marble, one of several depictions of the local quarry industry, won a gold medal at Knoxville’s 1910 Appalachian Exposition. Paintings of local agriculture such as Women at Work led The New York Times to declare approvingly, “Mr. Lloyd Branson takes hold of everyday life with courage.”

Museum visitors also will view several of Branson’s striking portraits including that of Civil War hero Admiral David Farragut. Also included in the exhibit is the artist’s design for Knoxville’s flag, adopted by the chamber of commerce in 1896, which evokes the pride and optimism of the rising city.

The exhibition features rare still-life and landscapes that highlight Branson’s skill as well as his love for his home state’s natural beauty. The retrospective also explores Branson’s role as a mentor and teacher to fellow artists, including Catherine Wiley and Beauford Delaney.

The exhibition is made possible through cooperation with the Branson Art Organization (bransonart.org) and is sponsored by John Z. C. Thomas and an anonymous donor. Celebrating a Life in Tennessee Art: Lloyd Branson, 1853 – 1925 will be on view through January 8th, 2017. For more information on the museum’s location, hours and parking, visit www.tnmuseum.org.

About the Tennessee State Museum

In 1937, the Tennessee General Assembly created a state museum to care for World War I artifacts and other collections from the state and other groups. The museum was located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building until it was moved into the new James K. Polk Cultural Center in 1981. The Tennessee State Museum currently occupies three floors, covering approximately 120,000 square feet with more than 60,000 square feet devoted to exhibits. The museum’s Civil War holdings of uniforms, battle flags, and weapons are among the finest in the nation.

For more information please visit: www.tnmuseum.org

About East Tennessee Historical Society

Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society is widely acknowledged as one of the most active history organizations in the state and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in programming and education.  For 181 years the East Tennessee Historical Society has been helping East Tennesseans hold on to our unique heritage—recording the events, collecting the artifacts, and saving the stories that comprise the history we all share.


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