WILLIAM GILBERT GAUL, N. A. (American, 1855 - 1919)

William Gilbert Gaul was a highly important late 19th and early 20th century American artist.  He lived many years of his life in Tennessee and is one of the earliest and best-known painters of Tennessee genre scenes.  Gaul was born March 31, 1855 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and he died in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey on December 21, 1919.  He attended the Claversack Military Academy, and it was this rudimentary military training, combined with an innate gift for dramatic composition, that garnered him much early success as an illustrator of military scenes, including oil paintings reconstructing Civil War battles scenes.  At age seventeen he moved to New York City and enrolled at the school of the National Academy of Design, where he studied under L. E. Wilmarth.  He also studied at the studio of John George Brown, the great American genre painter.  He joined the Art Students League when it opened in 1875.  In 1876 Gaul visited the American West and upon his return he exhibited military and Western pictures at the National Academy of Design and other places.  He provided numerous illustrations for Century Magazine and Harper’s Magazine.  In 1879 he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design and three years later he became the youngest full National Academician.  Also, in 1882 he won a gold medal from the American Art Association for his Civil War painting, “Holding The Line At All Hazards.”  Upon the death of a maternal uncle, Gaul inherited a tract of land near Fall Creek Falls in Van Buren County, Tennessee, where he built a cabin and studio to fulfill the requirement that he reside on the property for five years.  He then divided his time between Tennessee and New York City.  In 1889, Gaul’s painting, “Charging the Battery,” was awarded the bronze medal at the Paris Exposition.  The next year he was appointed special agent for the federal census among the Indians in North Dakota.  Then he went to Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, the West Indies and South America.  On his return, he won medals for painting and illustration at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  Gaul was at the pinnacle of success, but increasingly the American public lost interest in his work and turned toward European developments in art.  Increasing public disfavor forced him into teaching and by 1904 he was teaching at Cumberland Female College in McMinnville, Tennessee.  By 1905, he had a studio in Nashville, Tennessee where he worked on a series of paintings published in 1907 as a portfolio called “With the Confederate Colors.”  The limited success of the first portfolio resulted in the cancellation of the projected second one.  Soon thereafter Gaul left Nashville to live with his step-daughter in Charleston, South Carolina.  By 1910, he was in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, where he did World War I battle paintings right up until his death.  As has been the case with many great artists, recognition came many years after his death. Gaul is now recognized as one of America’s great native-born artists.  His paintings are illustrated in many important books on history and art, and his paintings are highly sought after by collectors. A large number of his paintings are in the collection of the Tennessee State Museum.  Many of these paintings were exhibited in France by the French government through a loan from the Tennessee State Museum.

Studied
National Academy of Design, 1872 with L.E. Wilmarth
Art Students League, 1875
History and Art, Tulsa
J. G. Brown in New York City

Work
Smithsonian Institution
Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American
Birmingham Museum of Art 
Vanderbilt University Collection of Fine Arts 
Cheekwood Gallery of Art
First Tennessee National Corporation
The Anschutz Collection
The Warner Collection of Fine Arts 
Toledo Museum of Art
Democratic Club of New York City
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Oakland Museum
C. R. Smith Collection
Peabody Institute, Baltimore
Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenberg, AZ
Yale University Art Gallery
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Georgia Museum of Art 
High Museum of Art 
Morris Museum of Art 
Greenville Museum of Art
New York Historical Society
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK
Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, VA
West Point Museum, NY
The Sir Richardson Collection of Western Art, Fort Worth, TX
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis
George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, Springfield, MA

Member
Associate member of the National Academy of Design, 1879
Full member of the National Academy of Design, 1882
Salmagundi Club, 1888

Exhibited
American Art Association, 1882 (gold medal)
Prize Fund, 1886 (gold medal)
Paris Exposition, 1889 (bronze medal)
Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (medals)
Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901 (medal)
Appalachian Exposition, Knoxville, 1910 (gold medal)
National Academy of Design, 1875, 1877-1900, 1906-1919
Brooklyn Art Association, 1877-1886
Boston Art Club, 1881-1898
Art Institute of Chicago
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1890, 1893-1894

References
Dunbier (ed.), The Artists Bluebook, 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005
Eldredge and Eiland, Tales from the Easel: American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums
Hughes, Artists in California: 1786-1940                                   
Reed, The Illustrator in America 1860-2000
Troccoli, Painters and the American West: The Anschutz Collection
Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975
Curry and O’Leary, American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Warner Collection
Severens, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Southern Collection     
Holzer and Neely Jr., Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory, The Civil War     
Carr, Revisiting the White City, American Art at the 1893 World’s Fair     
Falk (ed.), The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago     
Axelrod, Art of the Golden West     
Trenton and Houlihan, Native Americans Five Centuries of Changing Images     
Falk, Annual Exhibition Record, 1876-1913, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts     
Saunders, Collecting the West, The C. R. Smith Collection of Western  American Art     
Zellman, 300 Years of American Art         
Dawdy, Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary     
Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, Artists Active 1898-1947     
Orr-Cahill, The Art of California, Selected Works/ Oakland Museum     
Koke, American Lancscape/ Genre Paintings in the New York Historical Society         
Dippie, Remington and Russell (plus 9 western painters)     
Broder, Great Paintings of the Old American West           
Trumble, Representative Works of Contemporary American Artists     
Weinberg, Book of American Figure Painters     
Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West     
Hoopes and Moure, American Narrative Painting         
Naylor, Exhibition Record 1861-1900, National Academy of Design     
Eiland, “American Narrative Paintings,” American Art Review, February 2004         
Walker, “Twentieth Century Painting in Tennessee,” American Art Review, August 2002     
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, The American Scene, Live and Landscape of the 19th Century     
Clark, History of the national Academy of Design 1825-1953     
Mallett, Index of Artists International Biographical     
J B Lippincott Company, American Art From American Figure Painters     
Gilbert Gaul is referenced in over 70 books and magazines
National Academy of Design, Commemorative Edition 1825-1925
Pennington, A Southern Collection
Hoobler, Gilbert Gaul: American Realist
Falk, Annual Exhibition Record, 1901-1950, National Academy of Design
Gerdts, Art Across America (Central/South)
Blaugrund, Paris 1889 American Artists at the Universal Exhibition
Pennington, Look Away, Reality and Sentiment
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers
Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery, Collection Illustrated Checklist
Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1880-1980, A Century of Illustration
Cunningham, Masterpieces of the American West, Selections from the Anschutz Collection
Nygren and Myers, Of Time and Place, American Figurative Art from the Corcoran
Getlein, The Lure of the Great West
Sheldon, Recent Ideals of American Art
Harmsen, American Western Art
Flower and Murphy, American Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings (A Catalogue to 1923)
Saunders, “The Blanton Museum of Art, C. R. Smith,” American Art Review, December 2004
Earle, Biographical Sketches of American Artists
McCracken, A Distinguished Collection of Western Paintings
Taft, Artists and Illustrators of the Old West 1850-1900
Hartmann, A History of American Painting, Revised Edition