Portrait in Museum Center at Five Points drawing notice

Portrait in Museum Center at Five Points drawing notice

September 10th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

A portrait of Joseph Anderson Stubblefield hangs in the Museum Center at Five Points. He was teacher and president of the Centenary College for Women in Cleveland 1885 to 1905. The portrait was made by Tennessee artist Lloyd Branson, who died in 1925 after becoming well known for portraits of East Tennessee leaders of his day. The college burned in 1911. The portrait received little attention until a fan of Branson tracked it down and came to visit.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Joseph Stubblefield has been hanging around at the Museum Center at Five Points without much attention for a long time, but that changed recently.

His portrait was painted by Lloyd Branson a century ago, commissioned by former students of the Centenary Women's College. It was their way to honor Stubblefield for his years as a teacher and president of the college from 1885 to 1905.

"You know, I have walked past his portrait many times without paying much attention," said Tracy O'Connell, museum membership and gift shop manager.

But one July day, John Anderson from the Branson Art Organization in Nashville came by to see the portrait. Anderson has been seeking out Branson artwork and remembered there was one in Cleveland.

"I have learned from viewing many other works and paintings by a variety of artists, that every new encounter of artwork can often bring the necessity to crane your neck, search through the glare of bright lights or even to wander into poorly lit corners to catch a glimpse of what you've come to see," Anderson wrote on his blog at Bransonart.org.

That was not the case at Five Points, he said, where he was able to get an up-close look.

Branson, Paris trained and a Knoxville resident, was famous in his time for portraits of Southern political and community leaders, especially in East Tennessee, Anderson said. He died in 1925 and is buried in Knoxville.

Branson's art is at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, the Knox County Library, Knox County Museum of Art and the Frank H. McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee. His tribute to Benjamin Franklin is at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

But Anderson wants to know more about the Stubblefield portrait itself, its own story. Anyone with information can contact his blog at Bransonart.org.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.