Artist Biography: Henry Ossawa Tanner
A concise biography about Tanner's life and work.
National Gallery of Art Micro Gallery
National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.
Henry Ossawa Tanner
The first African American artist to achieve an international reputation, Henry Ossawa Tanner painted many biblical scenes as well as landscapes. His religious works often have an emotional intensity, while his landscapes exhibit direct observation and subtle tonal contrasts.
Tanner enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1880 and studied with Thomas Eakins. Eight years later Tanner moved to Atlanta, where he operated a photography studio. After experiencing repeated difficulties in gaining recognition in America, he moved to Paris, where he continued to study. He won a gold medal at the 1897 Salon; the Louvre subsequently bought his Raising of Lazarus (1897) to hang in its waiting room.
Though he remained abroad, Tanner was elected to New York's National Academy of Design in 1909; he was the first full member of African descent. In 1923 he received the Légion d'Honneur from the French government.