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Bannister, Edward M.

Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901) was the first African-American to win major national recognition as a professional artist. Born in Canada, he moved to Boston and worked as a barber while trying to establish a career as a portrait painter. There he became active in Abolitionist activities and married Christiana Carteaux, who owned a number of successful hairdressing salons. In 1869 the couple moved to Providence, where Bannister later became one of the founders of the Providence Art Club. In 1876 he was awarded a first-prize medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Educated and highly spiritual, Bannister was influenced by the French Barbizon school, whose serene view of nature and sympathetic portrayal of laborers coincided with his own sympathies. He was largely self-taught as an artist, though he studied briefly with William Rimmer of Boston. Few of Bannister's early portraits and still lifes survive, and he is best known for his moddy, contemplative landscapes and coastal scenes. He was an avid sailor and made frequent sketching trips along the Rhode Island coast. Bannister's most successful paintings incorporate a masterful handling of atmospheric effects and moody interpretations of land, sky, and water.

Title: Path to the Sea
Medium: oil on canvas, signed lower right, 11" x 18"

Title: Waters Edge with Cattle
Medium: oil/canvas, SLR 16" x 24"