Edwin Maximilian Gardner (Tennessee, 1845-1935) oil on canvas painting titled "Hoe in Hand" depicting a young African American man holding a hoe and a basket and standing on a dirt road in the shadow of a tree. A broken fence or gate is visible in the right foreground. Signed and dated "Edwin M. Gardner 1903" lower left. Typed artist's information label and conservation label, en verso. Housed in a gilt wood frame with reeded and lamb's tongue running patterns. Sight – 29 5/8" H x 21 5/8" W. Framed – 35 5/8" H x 27 1/8" W. American, early 20th century. Note: This painting was exhibited at the Tennessee State Museum's "Landscape and Genre Painting in Tennessee, 1810-1985," held in 1985, and is illustrated no. 46 in the catalog. It also is the illustration provided for the artist biography in the Tennessee Encyclopedia by Madeline Reed. Biography: "Edwin M. Gardner, illustrator, portraitist, and cartographer, was born near Pulaski in Giles County, TN, but while still a young boy, he moved with his family to Mississippi, where he probably had some formal training in art. While in his teens, Gardner fought in the Civil War as a member of Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry. Following the war, he began his formal art education in Memphis, then moved to Europe to train at the Royal Academy in Brussels, with later studies in France and Italy. Upon his return to the United States, Gardner resumed study at the National Academy of Design in New York. Afterwards, he moved to Aberdeen, Mississippi, where he taught art at a female academy. He next moved to Winchester in Franklin County [TN], where he spent five years on the faculty at Mary Sharp College. Gardner made his last home in Nashville, where he had his greatest artistic influence. He made the first woodcuts and pen portraits for photoengraving used in the local daily newspapers, including the first published pen portrait of Sarah Childress Polk. Although Gardner was listed in the catalogue of the 1885 Watkins Institute Art Show as a teacher there, he actually taught under the auspices of the Nashville Art Association [which he co-founded] in the art room which Watkins provided. His first official association with Watkins's Night School probably came in September 1910, when he was hired to teach industrial art. (School commissioners were perhaps still uncomfortable with the term "fine" art.) Gardner's presence on the Watkins Institute faculty gave the school a teacher trained in commercial and fine arts. He encouraged his students to draw by taking casts and using live models, and this laid the foundation for the school's Department of Fine Art." (source: "Edwin M. Gardner" by Madeline Reed, Tennessee Encyclopedia, originally published October 8, 2017, https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/edwin-m-gardner/). Provenance: Art Collection of former Watkins College of Art; proceeds benefit scholarship endowment for students in the new Watkins College of Art at Belmont University. CONDITION: Overall good condition with craquelure. Painting was relined with some areas of inpainting, largest 2" x 1/8" to left margin of sky area, and mounted on a new ICA spring stretcher during professional restoration in 1985. Conservation treatment report available on request. 3" x 2 1/2" circular stain to upper left of sky, possibly resulting from water or other fluid drip.
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