Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937

Alternative names

Hide Profile

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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Atlanta Life Insurance Company. Advertisement. Atlanta History Center, Kenan Research Center / Cherokee Garden Library
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner riding a horse [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895. Frederick Douglass papers, 1841-1967 (bulk 1862-1895). Library of Congress
referencedIn Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960. Clarence Cameron White papers, 1901-1940. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Alexander family. Alexander family papers relating to Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1912-1985. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Petryszyn, Steve,. Steve Petryszyn Collection, 1950-2000, undated. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives
creatorOf Milch Gallery. Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Harmon Foundation Collection. 1922 - 1967. Artworks by Negro Artists. 1922 - 1967. quot;The Good Shepherdquot;
creatorOf Browne, George Elmer, 1871-1946. George Elmer Browne papers, 1900-1932. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Milch Gallery. Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner with palette [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, [Between 1900 and 1937]. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Frederick Douglass Papers, 1841-1967, (bulk 1862-1895) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Harmon Foundation Collection. 1922 - 1967. Artworks by Negro Artists. 1922 - 1967. quot;Christ and Nicodemusquot;
referencedIn Gutekunst, Frederick, 1831-1917. Henry Ossawa Tanner [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Henry O. Tanner letters to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1885-1909. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Harmon Foundation Collection. 1922 - 1967. Artworks by Negro Artists. 1922 - 1967. quot;Flight into Egyptquot;
creatorOf Century illustrated monthly magazine. Century Magazine letters, 1870-1918. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Clarence Cameron White papers, 1901-1940 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895. Papers of Frederick Douglass, 1841-1967 (bulk 1862-1895) Library of Congress
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. ALS, 1906 February 11 : Martiques, France, to Mr. Morris. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Artwork and print collection, 1905-[ca. 1988]. Cheyney University, L. P. Hill Library
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Henry Ossawa Tanner collection, 1907-1937. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn The, Daily Worker, and, The Daily World, Photographs Collection, Bulk, 1930-1990, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
creatorOf Letters to Albert Rosenthal, 1885-1936. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978, bulk 1890-1937. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn James, Milton Morriss, 1926-. Milton Morriss James papers, 1923-1980. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Jones, Peter P. Henry Ossawa Tanner [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner in his studio [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Carrington, C. Glenn, 1904-1975,. African American artists exhibit announcements, 1927-1982. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Letter : Paris, 1900 May 5. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner and three men [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. Autographs collected and letters received by Lydia Avery Coonley Ward, 1705, 1785, 1848, 1861-1922 (bulk 1861-1922). University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner's studio [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Henry Ossawa Tanner [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. Autographs collected and letters received, O-Z, 1705, 1785, 1848, 1861-1922 (bulk 1861-1922). University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Mathews, Marcia M. Marcia M. Mathews papers relating to Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1937-1969, bulk, 1963-1969. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Art League Publishing Co. (Chicago, Ill.). Artists' biographical questionnaires, 1905. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf TANNER, HENRY OSSAWA. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Tanner, Henry Ossawa : Biographical file. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
referencedIn Matthes, L. Henry Ossawa Tanner with pallette and easel [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960. Clarence Cameron White collection, 1872-1965 (bulk, 1930-1960). Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center
referencedIn Harmon Foundation Collection. 1922 - 1967. Artworks by Negro Artists. 1922 - 1967. quot;Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrahquot;
creatorOf Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Henry Ossawa Tanner : [vertical file]. Morris Museum of Art Library
creatorOf Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978 (bulk 1890-1937) Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Académie Julian. corporateBody
associatedWith Académie Julian corporateBody
associatedWith Alexander family. family
associatedWith Art Institute of Chicago. corporateBody
associatedWith Art League Publishing Co. (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Atlanta Life Insurance Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Browne, George Elmer, 1871-1946. person
associatedWith Carpenter, J. S. person
associatedWith Carpenter, J. S. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Century illustrated monthly magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Clifford family family
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Curtis, Atherton person
associatedWith Curtis, Atherton. person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
correspondedWith Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895. person
associatedWith Exposition universelle internationale de 1900 (Paris, France) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Central Art Galleries. corporateBody
associatedWith Gutekunst, Frederick, 1831-1917. person
associatedWith James, Milton Morriss, 1926- person
associatedWith Jones, Peter P. person
associatedWith Knight, Ridgway, 1839-1924. person
associatedWith Mathews, Marcia M. person
associatedWith Matthes, L. person
associatedWith Milch Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Old American Art Club (Paris, France) corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenthal, Albert, 1863-1939. person
associatedWith Tanner family family
associatedWith Tanner, Jesse O., 1903- person
associatedWith Tanner, Jessie O., 1873-1925. person
associatedWith Taverty, J. J. person
associatedWith Taverty, J. J. person
associatedWith Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. person
associatedWith White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Pennsylvania
France--Paris
France
France--Paris
Subject
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
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1859-06-21

Death 1937-05-25

Americans

English

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6xd13g7

Ark ID: w6xd13g7

SNAC ID: 63700783