Henry Ossawa Tanner Biography
Birthday: June 21, 1859 (Gemini)
Born In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Henry Ossawa Tanner was an African American painter. Belonging to a religious family, he developed an interest towards art when he was a teenager. His ability to depict landscapes and biblical themes earned him international fame. While on a tour to Europe, he visited Paris. What attracted him most in Paris was the freedom from racial discrimination of its artistic world. There he studied under renowned academic painters like Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant for a brief period. His early paintings like ‘The Banjo Lesson’ and ‘The Thankful Poor’ reflect the influence of realist artist Thomas Eakins on him. His ‘The Banjo Lesson’ denotes sharing of knowledge through its simple drawing style. Most of his famous works are his depiction of the daily life of blacks and each of these art works represent the black people in a dignified manner. His visit to places like Tangier and the Holy Land inspired him to create paintings with religious themes. His paintings with religious themes include ‘Daniel in the Lions’ Den’. The painting of ‘The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water’ mirrors his sense of photography. As an artist, he was the recipient of numerous prestigious honours like the Order of the Legion Honor.