“Joy to the World”, street singers in Downtown Nashville.

Ernest A. Pickup (1887-1970)

ca. 1939

Woodblock print.

Edition: 50.

This was a familiar scene on McKendree Methodist Church lawn in downtown Nashville each Christmas. A blind couple kept alive the Christmas spirit as they sang Christmas carols while late shoppers pass by unheeding.

This edition is pictured in the book; The Life and Work of Ernest A. Pickup, by Beverly P. St. John and Gary A. Webb. 2009, in conjunction with a solo exhibit at Le Quire Gallery in Nashville. This signed limited edition book is included with the print.

Size: 16 1/2” x 14” (Archival framing)

Wikipedia entry submitted by Gary Webb:

“In 1912 he began a career as a commercial artist, and over the next 18 years built a successful business in Nashville. During the Depression, however, Pickup’s business, like most in America, began to suffer. With time on his hands, Pickup began experimenting with wood engraving in the early 1930s. He studied the work of other artists –primarily Claire Leighton, Rockwell Kent and Thomas Nason and to a lesser extent Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. Claire Leighton’s book on wood engraving and wood cuts became his Bible on making woodcuts, but it was Thomas Nason’s simple architectural themes and pastoral renderings that inspired his subject matter. Pickup and Nason shared a common view of nature and the countryside, and the majority of his prints reflected his love of nature as well as his appreciation for the historical places and the rural area in and around Nashville.

Pickup was one of only a handful of artists in Tennessee who worked with wood engraving. He exhibited nationally throughout the 1930s, and became nationally recognized for his work. In January 1937 his prints were exhibited in the National Exhibition of Lithographs, Woodcuts, and Block Prints New York City, and from that exhibition one of his prints was selected by The Society of American Etchers for a tour of European Galleries, beginning in Stockholm, Sweden.

His work was included in the “Sixth International Exhibition of Lithography and Wood Engraving,” at the Art Institute of Chicago, November 5, 1937 to January 10, 1938. From that exhibition his print was chosen as one of the best 100 works for a traveling show throughout America.

With America’s entry in World War II there was an increased demand for commercial artwork, and as a result Pickup’s printmaking suffered. By the late 1940s he had returned full time to his commercial artwork. He remained, however, connected to the arts community well into the 1950s. He still exhibited his work occasionally and gave occasional lectures on woodblock printing to local organizations.

In 1962 at the age of seventy-five he closed his business with the intention of retiring. Before he was able to move out of his studio, he was enticed to work another five years for a printing company for which he had done art work for many years. He died February 24, 1970 in Nashville.

Recently his work was included in an exhibition at the Georgia Museum of the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia summer 2007 and is scheduled for the summer of 2008 to be held at Auburn University Art Museum in Alabama.


P.O. Box 50031 Nashville, Tennessee

Phone 615-390-1836

Email: Michael@MichaelHallAntiques.com