artist spotlight: henry ossawa tanner

One of my favorite Black painters is Henry O. Tanner. He is known for his classical painting style depicting both African American life and biblical stories. He's a master at chiaroscuro; a technique that emphasizes light in a painting to create more realism.

artist henry ossawa tanner
Portrait of the artist by Thomas Eakins

I think the most interesting thing about Henry O. Tanner is that he was largely rejected by the Black art community during his time. Because of his interest in classical painting style, he found his niche when he traveled abroad to France. There, his race was little an issue and he quickly acclimated to Parisian life. (Which I'm sure was soooo hard to get used to!) Nevertheless, Tanner created the art that he wanted to and what was best for him, not what was trendy for his time period. That's an inspiration for me!

artist henry ossawa tanner painting the banjo lesson
"The Banjo Lesson" - His most famous work!

artist henry ossawa tanner painting the annunciation
"The Anunciation"

artist henry ossawa tanner painting daniel in the lions den
"Daniel in the Lion's Den"

artist henry ossawa tanner painting
"Thankful Poor"

His candid perspectives, muted colors and soft plays with light are so comforting to me! I hope you enjoy his art as much as I do, and for more on Henry O. Tanner, click here.

Creative spirit living & loving in Raleigh, NC.