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The Two Disciples at the Tomb

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.


c. 1906


Henry Ossawa Tanner (American, 1859–1937)

About this artwork

Working in Paris, Henry Ossawa Tanner grounded his portrayal of a biblical scene in the thoughtful, individual expressions of the figures. The Two Disciples at the Tomb depicts an event from the Gospel of Saint John in which Peter and John arrive at Christ’s empty tomb. The bearded Peter looks downward with a somber gaze, but John appears transfixed, his face bathed in a golden light that signifies the presence of Christ’s spirit.

The son of a prominent minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Tanner was perhaps the most renowned American painter of religious works at the turn of the 20th century. After studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Tanner expatriated to France in 1891 in an effort to escape the trenchant racism that limited his career in the United States.


On View, Gallery 273


Arts of the Americas


Henry Ossawa Tanner


The Two Disciples at the Tomb


Paris (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1906


Oil on canvas


Signed, lower left: "H.O. Tanner"


129.5 × 105.7 cm (51 × 41 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Robert A. Waller Fund

Reference Number


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