lloyd branson, artist

Knoxville's Famous Artist


On August 8, 1853, Enoch Lloyd was born to Enoch and Altimirah Gentry Branson on the family farm in Union County, Tennessee. His parents believed that his inspired visions found in the wilds of East Tennessee’s natural surrounding would give birth to a brilliant career as an artist. His father constructed a crude studio on the family farm and word soon spread of this “boy artist.” 

Dr. John M. Boyd, a notable physician and philanthropist from Knoxville, learned of his talents and convinced the Bransons to allow Lloyd to move with him to Knoxville, for a proper education. Lloyd began taking college preparatory classes from 1869–1870 at East Tennessee University in Knoxville. Lloyd eventually enrolled there full-time in 1871 and graduated a few years later from the college that would be re-named the University of Tennessee.

As an apprentice he learned how to paint portraits and sold many to earn income, but his heart would be claimed by the painting of nature’s wonders. He later experimented and became a prolific impressionist painter in addition to other genres. He was able to travel to New York City in the fall of 1873. He enrolled in both the Antique School and the Life School of the National Academy of Design. There he won his first award on May 19, 1875 for a drawing of a Greek gladiator. It was a first place Tiffany medal.  (See "Awards" below)

He returned to Knoxville where he became famous as Knoxville’s first professional artist. There he partnered with photographer Frank McCrary to open McCrary & Branson - an art and photography studio. Lloyd passed on his knowledge in the role of a teacher to the next generation of great painters like Catherine Wiley and Beauford Delaney, to name a few. He was a well-know leader of the Knoxville Art League and participated in art exhibitions in cities around the country, and eventually traveling to Europe for a Paris exhibition.

Many of his great works can be seen in the Gallery sections of this website, and some have settled in museums and fine homes with private collectors everywhere. On June 12, 1925, the clock had nearly struck 9:00 p.m. The life of an internationally known artist was about to draw to a close and, with his last breath, an artistic era for East Tennessee ended as abruptly when Lloyd Branson died quietly at his home on Branson Avenue.



New York City - National Academy of Design


 With the income from portraits and the help of Knoxville art patrons such as Dr. John Boyd and H. L. McClung, Lloyd was able to travel to New York City in the fall of 1873. He enrolled in both the Antique School and the Life School of the National Academy of Design (NAD). This was an exciting time for the twenty-year-old artist.


Attending the National Academy of Design was a dream and goal fulfilled. He was in good company with fellow students Winslow Homer and Louis C. Tiffany, as was local Tennessee artist Gilbert Gaul, a classmate of Lloyd’s. Both took instruction along with Abbott Thayer, Thomas Anschutz, and Frederic Church. 

Life in this metropolis and enrollment in the famous school brought about many challenges, and the commitment to live in New York was no small financial undertaking. The YMCA across the street from the academy was a popular and practical residence for students, and Lloyd may well have resided there with some of his classmates. But the NAD was one of the best centers for instruction in the United States and worth the cost of living there.