Portrait of Branson (1873) by early Knoxville photographer T.M. Schleier
|Born||Enoch Lloyd Branson
Knox County, Tennessee
|Died||June 12, 1925
|Old Gray Cemetery
|Education||University of Tennessee
National Academy of Design
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.
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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.
- 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
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.
- The year of Branson's birth is given variously as 1853 or 1854; his tombstone at Old Gray Cemetery lists his year of birth as 1853. Conversely, his obituary from a Knoxville newspaper clipping on file at the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection lists his age at his death as 70.
- James Hoobler, Lloyd Branson. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
- Elizabeth Moore, Anna Catherine Wiley. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
- Jack Neely, A Tale of Two Brothers. Metro Pulse, Vol. 7, No. 13 (3–10 April 1997). Retrieved: 21 June 2010.
- East Tennessee Historical Society, Mary Rothrock (ed.), The French Broad-Holston Country: A History of Knox County, Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.: The Society, 1972), pp. 385-6.
- Frederick Moffatt, Lucile Deaderick (ed.), "Painting, Sculpture, and Photograph," Heart of the Valley: A History of Knoxville, Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, 1976), pp. 426-7.
- Dean Novelli, "On a Corner of Gay Street: A History of the Lamar House—Bijou Theater, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1817 – 1985." East Tennessee Historical Society Publications, Vol. 56 (1984), pp. 3-45.
- Tennessee Portrait Project
- Branson House, Knox Heritage Fragile Fifteen, 2013. Retrieved: 15 May 2013.
- Works of Branson and McCrary — Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection
- Tennessee Portrait Project - Lloyd Branson entries