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Tanner, Henry Ossawa

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)was the son of Rev. Benjamin Tucker Tanner, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Philadelphia, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under Thomas Easkins. As an African-American artist, Tanner found it difficult to establish patronage in Philadelphia or in Atlanta, where he initially opened a photography studio. During a trip to the North Carolina mountains, his paintings of local black residents impressed Bishop Joseph Hartzel, who became the first of Tanner's several white benefactors. Hartzel purchased Tanner's entire exhibition, enabling the artist to travel abroad. He studied for several years at the Academie Julian in Paris, where his work became more personal and sensitive. Around 1896, Tanner began to focus on religious subjects, a change that brought critical and financial success. His overwhelming acceptance at the Paris Salon brought with it awards and honors and the support of affluent French patrons. Following a trip to the Holy Land, Tanner's style changed dramatically, developing into a mature blend of spirituality and impressionistic color, light, and form. Although his work was earning increasing notice in America, Tanner decided to make Paris his permanent home after his marriage in 1898 to a white woman from California. Tanner was the first black artist elected to the National Academy and was made a Knight of France's Legion of Honor. His painting "The Raising of Lazarus" was purchased by the French government for the Luxembourg Museum. Today his works are found in many museums in Europe and America, including the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles Museum of Art. No items found.