Artist Lloyd Branson was born in Union County in 1854 and spent his life in the Knoxville area. In 1871, at age seventeen, he exhibited at the East Tennessee Division Fair and received favorable notice. As a result, Branson moved to New York in 1873 to study at the National Academy of Design, where he won a first prize in 1875. That allowed him to travel to Europe, but in 1876 he was back in Knoxville.
The exposure to the art schools and art movements in Europe gave Branson an advantage over the other regional artists working in Knoxville in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1885 he won a medal at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta. In 1910 Branson won a gold medal at Knoxville's Appalachian Exposition for Hauling Marble. That painting is now in the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee. His interest in regional history resulted in a number of paintings that depict historical subjects, such as the Gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals and the Sheep Shearing incident where John Sevier met his future wife. The Tennessee State Museum has these two paintings and a number of portraits by Branson, including those of John Haywood, J. G. M. Ramsey, John L. Cox, James B. Frazier, D. L. Lansden, Dewitt Clinton Senter, Peter Turney, Alvin C. York, Montgomery Stuart, Hester Thompson Stuart, and James Allen Smith.
In a partnership with Frank McCrary from 1885 to 1903, Branson became a leader in the East Tennessee arts community. Branson died on June 12, 1925. His wife Mollie Wilson Branson survived him until 1951.