—Knoxville History Project —
Born of German parents who settled in the area before the Civil War, Charles Christopher Krutch spent most of his life in Knoxville, the family home not far from here at 914 East Hill Avenue. Without formal training, Krutch worked throughout his life as a professional portrait photographer for several local studios.
Most summers, even up into his 80s, Krutch took a train to Sevierville, hopped on a wagon and headed up to the mountains, often spending weeks at a time living with mountain people, where he prepared sketches of the landscapes before returning to Knoxville to paint them. One of his favorite places to sketch was the Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Known for his atmospheric watercolors and oil paintings, Krutch painted with both brushes and fingers to achieve what has been dubbed "the changing 'moods' of the mountains," inspiring his nickname, the "Corot of the South."
Coming from a gifted musical family (one of his relatives played piano at the White House) Krutch also served as organist at St. John's Episcopal Church, and Church of the Epiphany, the precursor to St. James Episcopal Church on Broadway. He is buried in New Gray Cemetery.
Krutch Park is not named after this artist but rather his nephew, Charles Edward Krutch, a TVA photographer who left money to the City for a downtown
park. Krutch Park was completed in 1985. Another nephew was Joseph Wood Krutch, a well-known critic, biographer, and naturalist.
This painting is featured in the Knoxville Museum of Art's permanent exhibition,Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East TennesseeSpecial thanks to the Knoxville Museum of Art
Downtown Art Wraps are coordinated by the Knoxville History Project, an educational nonprofit with a mission to research and promote the history and culture of Knoxville. KHP's educational articles and publications feature colorful characters, bizarre tales, interesting buildings, curious traditions, as well as seriously influential local events. Learn more at knoxvillehistoryproject.org