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UA Amazing Artist: Henry Ossawa Tanner

Leslie Brown

This amazing artist’s mother was born into slavery, and he went on to become the first American black artist to gain international recognition.

Henry was a “preacher’s kid” (father an A.M.E. bishop), and his heart never left devotion to God, sharing paintings of biblical heroes. Tanner studied at the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts under artist Thomas Eakins, later moving to Paris where the influence of the impressionists can be seen in his works.

After moving to Paris in 1891, Tanner never moved back to the United States, but continued to show the influence of his American upbringing in some of his more poignant works such as “The Banjo Player” and “The Thankful Poor”.

Even more amazing to me are his paintings portraying scenes from the Bible. The painting “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” captures the illumination of a shaft of light breaking upon the scene of Daniel in the dungeon. Modern-day American Artist Thomas Kinkaide was dubbed the “Painter of Light” in this past century, but in my opinion he could have learned a lot from Tanner…(I’ll leave it at that.)

Go online and enjoy some amazing works of Tanner such as “Nicodemus Visiting Jesus”, “Christ at the Home of Mary and Martha”, “The Disciples at the Tomb”, some beautiful impressionistic pieces and a portrait of Booker T. Washington.

haul of fish

“I will preach with my brush.”
—Henry Ossawa Tanner

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