Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Banjo Lesson - 1893

Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Banjo Lesson - 1893

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 – 1937) was the first African American painter to receive an academic training in Paris.  Tanner studied at the Académie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens and joined the American Art Students Club. Within French art circles in the 1890s, the issue of race mattered less than in the United States,  and Tanner quickly felt welcome.  He copied at the Louvre, and was especially inspired by Jean-Baptiste Chardin. Tanner’s work was accepted into the 1896 Salon. Critical praise solidified Tanner’s reputation and when the art critic Rodman Wanamaker saw The Resurrection of Lazarus, he offered to cover an all-expenses-paid trip for Tanner to the Middle East.  Before the next Salon opened, Tanner set forth for Palestine. Explorations of various mosques and biblical sites as well as character studies of the local population allowed Tanner to further his artistic training. His paintings developed a powerful air of mystique and spirituality.

Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Annunciation - 1898

Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Annunciation - 1898