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Gilbert Gaul was born in New Jersey, and studied in New York at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. He maintained a long association with the academy, exhibiting in annual shows from 1877-1902, becoming the youngest member to attain academician status at age 27. His skill in creating military, western and genre paintings, as well as illustrations for "Century" and "Harper's Weekly", earned him extraordinary success in popular and official art circles in the late nineteenth century. Gaul's descriptive views of Civil War battle action, and his many sentimental and anecdotal genre scenes of American soldiers, farmers, hunters, and adventurers were based on the solid academic realism of his training. In 1881 Gaul inherited a farm in Van Buren County, Tennessee, where he built a cabin and studio. While continuing his military and genre work, he also began to explore more pastoral views of nature that evoked the beauty of the woodland countryside. His experience of the landscape and culture of the south continued to inform his art throughout his career.
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