Project Description

Henry Ossawa Tanner, born in Pennsylvania, is known for being the first African-American painter to gain international fame. He spent a great deal of time teaching himself to paint as a young man, using art as a therapy when he was ill. In 1879 he was accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts as the first African-American student. Tanner quickly excelled and rose to the top of his class, gaining special attention from his teachers. However, he still felt restricted by the color of his skin, therefore in 1891 Tanner moved to Paris, France where he continued his studies. In France he was accepted into many art circles because of his talent. It was no surprise that his art continued to grow in popularity after the acceptance of one of his paintings into the 1896 Salon. His subjects range from the everyday lives of late nineteenth century African Americans to biblical scenes. Nature was a common subject of his early artworks, which lead to the creation of many landscape paintings. Tanner also accepted the common belief that mountain air was curative, thus, after a severe illness, he spent a summer in the North Carolina Highlands. In the lush mountains Tanner created studies which resulted in his beautiful oil landscapes such as this. The work seems to summarize his formal education in Pennsylvania, his feelings in the restorative highlands, and his artistic style before he moved to Paris, where he lived the rest of his days.

-Constantine Botimer, Class of 2019

Object Details

Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1859-1937
c. 1889
23" x 36"
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Guy Ward Mallon, 1934