Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1859-06-21
Death 1937-05-25
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

American painter.

From the description of Letter : Paris, 1900 May 5. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 83539500

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), African American painter, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

From the description of Henry Ossawa Tanner collection, 1907-1937. (Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc.). WorldCat record id: 38477188

Painter; Paris, France.

Born Pittsburgh, Pa. Painted mainly biblical scenes. Trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1891, Tanner traveled to Europe, settling in Paris, where he remained until his death.

From the description of Henry O. Tanner letters to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1885-1909. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79100345

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was a painter from Pittsburgh, Pa.

He was a painter mainly of biblical scenes. Trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, studying with Thomas Eakins (who painted a well-known portrait of him). After the failure of his photographic portrait studio in Atlanta, Ga., Tanner went abroad in 1891; the trip was financed by a Methodist bishop, Joseph Crane Hartzell and his wife. Tanner settled in Paris, France and remained there until his death, barring a brief period during World War I, when Tanner and his family were evacuted to England.

From the description of Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978, bulk 1890-1937. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 220172914

African American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Benjamin Tucker Tanner, a college-educated teacher and minister, and Sarah Miller Tanner, a former slave. Benjamin Tanner was very active in the African Methodist Episcopal (A. M. E.) Church, eventually becoming a bishop, and the family often moved while Henry was a small child. They settled in Philadelphia, and as a teenager, Tanner spent his free time painting, drawing, and visiting art galleries. In 1880 he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under several master art instructors, including Thomas Eakins who greatly influenced his early work.

Tanner moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1888 and opened a photography gallery which was not very successful. After teaching briefly at Clark College, a sponsorship from his patrons Bishop and Mrs. Joseph Crane Hartzell allowed him to travel to Europe in 1891 and study at the Académie Julian in Paris. There he was taught by Jean Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. After returning to Philadelphia in late 1892, he painted many works depicting African American subjects, including The Banjo Lesson (1893). He returned to Paris in 1894. There, his work began to receive favorable reviews, particularly at the Paris Solon for his biblical scenes. Tanner began to specialize in painting bible imagery and scenes, and traveled to Palestine in 1897 and 1898 and later to Morocco to study costumes, customs, and cityscapes.

In 1899 Tanner married Jessie Macauley Olssen, a young woman from San Francisco living in Paris. Also around this time reproductions of his artwork were published in a few popular American magazines, and Tanner began to receive praise for his artwork in the United States. Tanner, however, objected to being labeled as "Negro artist". Despite their misgivings, the couple moved back to the United States for a short time. Their son, Jesee Ossawa Tanner was born in 1903. One year later Tanner and his wife returned to Paris and made it their lifelong permanent home, only occasionally visiting the United States for exhibitions of his work. They also maintained a leisure farm in Trepied, Normandy.

Tanner continued to exhibit his work in Paris, develop his painting technique and imagery, and travel, becoming friends with many artists throughout Europe. In 1913 he became president of the Societe Artistique de Picardie and during World War I he worked for the American Red Cross in France. In 1923 he was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France for his work as an artist. Tanner became affiliated with Grand Central Art Galleries and other dealers in the United States and had great success there during the 1920s. When Jessie Tanner died in 1925 Henry was grief stricken and remained in poor health for the remainder of his life. He continued to paint occasionally until his death in 1937.

From the guide to the Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978 (bulk 1890-1937), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6xd13g7
Ark ID:
w6xd13g7
SNAC ID:
63700783

Subjects:

  • Expatriate painters--France--Paris
  • African American painters
  • African Americans
  • Artists, American
  • Painters--United States
  • Painters
  • African American painters--France--Paris
  • Painting, American--19th century
  • Art--Economic aspects
  • Expatriate painters

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • France--Paris (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • France--Paris (as recorded)