- NAME: Henry Ossawa Tanner
- OCCUPATION: Painter
- BIRTH DATE: June 21, 1859
- DEATH DATE: May 25, 1937
- EDUCATION: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Academie Julian, Robert Vaux School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
- Full Name: Henry Ossawa Tanner
- AKA: Henry Tanner
Best Known For
Henry Ossawa Tanner was an American painter who frequently depicted biblical scenes and is best known for the paintings "Nicodemus Visiting Jesus," "The Banjo Lesson" and "The Thankful Poor." He was the first African-American painter to gain international fame.
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Also in 1899, Tanner married a white American singer, Jessie Olssen. The couple's only child, Jesse, was born in 1903.
Throughout much of the rest of his life, even as he shifted his focus to religious scenes, Tanner continued to receive praise and honors for his work, including being named honorary chevalier of the Order of the Legion Honor—France's most distinguished award—in 1923. Four years later,
Tanner was made a full academician of the National Academy of Design—becoming the first African-American to ever receive the distinction.
Henry Ossawa Tanner died at his Paris home on May 25, 1937.
In the ensuing years, his name recognition dipped. However, in the late 1960s, beginning with a solo exhibition of his work at the Smithsonian, Tanner's stature began to rise. In 1991, the Philadelphia Museum of Art assembled a touring retrospective his paintings, setting off a new wave of interest in his life and work.
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