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Brief Biography of Tennessee artists in the Dec. 6th, 2008 auction

Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer (b. Pennsylvania 1873- d. Nashville 1943)

Like the Italian Renaissance artist who shared her middle name, Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer was a female painter who thrived in a male-dominated field. A great-great-granddaughter of Charles Willson Peale, she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux.  She won numerous awards and was judged the best pupil of her senior class. Hergesheimer also studied in Madrid and in Paris, where in a single year, four of her paintings were selected to hang at the Paris Salon. In 1907, Hergesheimer was commissioned to paint a portrait in Nashville, and decided to make it her home. She was acclaimed for her sensitive portraits of prominent citizens, landscapes, still lifes, and prints.

 

Anna Catherine Wiley (b. 1879-d.1958)

Catherine Wiley was one of the early female students at the University of Tennessee, and taught art and drawing there from 1905 until 1918.  She is credited with establishing formal art instruction at the school, and with making the program into one of the South’s best. Wiley also studied at the Art Students League in New York under Frank DuMond, and spent summers learning from major American impressionists such as Robert Reid, Jonas Lie, and Martha Walter. She won two gold medals at the Appalachian Exposition in 1910, and claimed the prize for best Southern artist at the Southwestern Fair in Atlanta in 1917. She served as President of the Nicholson Art League and director of the Fine Arts Department of Knoxville’s National Conservation Exposition. Her paintings – often depicting women in picturesque settings — were exhibited at many prominent venues including the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  In 1926, Wiley suffered a mental collapse which ended her painting career. She remained institutionalized until her death.

 

Eleanor McAdoo Wiley (b. 1876-d. 1977)

Like her younger sister Catherine, Eleanor Wiley studied at the University of Tennessee. She also studied at the Stevens Art School in Gatlinburg and was a founder of the Knoxville Art Center, later the Dulin Gallery of Art, and was a member of the Nicholson Art League. She is best known for her portraits, landscapes with historic houses, and still lifes.

 

Lloyd Branson (b. 1853-d. 1925)

Branson is known as the first East Tennessee artist to receive formal art training in Europe (at the National Academy of Design in Paris). He also studied at the National Academy of Design in New York, where he won first prize in 1875 for his drawing of a Greek gladiator. In 1877, he returned to Knox County and bought a photography studio and art gallery, which was in operation until 1905. He lived in Knoxville the rest of his life, becoming one of the area’s most prominent artists – although he continued to send paintings to the East Coast for exhibitions. Branson is known for his portrait and regional history painting. He also taught painting to several students who would become notable in their own right (including Catherine Wiley), and was a founding member of the Nicholson Art League.

 

Charles Christopher Krutch (b. South Carolina 1849- d. Knoxville 1934) 

Krutch moved with his family to Knoxville as a child, and when he was old enough, began working as a portrait photographer (for awhile, with Lloyd Branson). His notable painting skills – which earned him the nickname “The Corot of the South” — were entirely self-taught. He limited his subject matter to the Great Smoky Mountains, often hiking to remote areas and boarding with mountain families to capture backcountry vistas. In 1934, shortly before his death, he was named the first artist of the new Works Projects Administration program in the arts in Knoxville. 

 

Samuel Shaver (b. 1816-d. Illinois 1878)

Little is known about Samuel Shaver’s early education and training, but he was one of the earliest native Tennesseans to achieve prominence for his painting. In addition to creating portraits of some of East Tennessee’s most important and wealthy citizens, he taught painting and drawing at the Female Institute in Rogersville. He had a studio in Knoxville during the Civil War and was active in the East Tennessee Arts Association.

 

Ernest A. Pickup (b. 1887- d. 1970)

Ernest Pickup, whose family owned a rubber stamp business in Nashville, began his career as a successful commercial artist. But when business slowed during the Great Depression, he began creating woodblock prints. Inspired by artists such as Rockwell Kent, he captured the architectural and natural landmarks of the Nashville area with blocks of carved boxwood, ink and paper. His work was exhibited nationally and in 1937 the Society of American Etchers selected his work Finis: A Study in Finalities as one of their Best 100 Prints of American Artists. Pickup’s printmaking declined as his commercial art business grew during the 1940s. He was one of the few Tennessee artists to gain national recognition in the medium of wood engraving.

 

Thomas Campbell (b. England 1843- d. East Tennessee, 1914)

Painting was a second career for Thomas Campbell, who immigrated to the United States at age 19, and was ordained as a minister in 1866. He and his family moved to East Tennessee in hopes a climate change would improve the health of his wife, Susan, but she died in 1892. At that point, Campbell, retired from the ministry and turned art, which had been his hobby, into his job. He founded the art department at Maryville College in 1902 and headed it until his death. His paintings were exhibited regionally and won several prizes and medals. He was also active in the Nicholson Art League, and was a talented wood carver who produced picture frames and small pieces of furniture.          

 

Louis E. Jones (b. New York 1878-d. East Tennessee 1958)

Originally from Woodstock, New York, Louis E. Jones was a formally trained impressionist painter who found inspiration in the mountains of East Tennessee. He founded the Cliff Dwellers Gallery in 1933. 

 

George Dury (b. Bavaria, 1817- d. Nashville, 1894)

Dury studied art at the Academie der Bildende Kiensti in Munich, and as a young man won acclaim for his small cabinet portraits. Among his subjects were Prince Adalbert of Bavaria and Queen Theresa of Greece.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1849 and by 1850, established a studio on Union Street in Nashville. There he made a name for himself painting the prominent citizens of Middle Tennessee. His business survived the Civil War, and his portraits of Mr. and Mrs. William Blackmore were exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

 

Edward Hurst (b. Knoxville, 1912-d. Scotland, 1972)

Although he lived in New York and Great Britain for much of his adult life, Hurst was the son of a noted Knoxville portrait photographer and visited East Tennessee regularly until his death. He was a student of Catherine Wiley in Tennessee, and he also studied in New York, Munich, and Florence. He had a successful career painting portraits, still lifes and landscapes. After developing an allergy to oil paints, he began working in watercolor, crayons and pastels.

 

Compiled by Sarah Campbell Drury

Sources:

Art and Furniture of East Tennessee by Namuni Hale Young * Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Winter 1987,  Portrait Painting in Tennessee by James Kelly * The Tennessee Encyclopedia Online * He Came into this World Drawing by Beverly St. John