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Henry Ossawa Tanner, Resurrection of Lazarus, 1897, Musée d’Orsay
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Resurrection of Lazarus, 1897, Musée d’Orsay


Jan. 10, 2012

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The pioneering 19th-century African-American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) is getting major recognition at his alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, with the retrospective “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit,” Jan. 28-Apr. 15, 2012.

The exhibition features a few rarities among the 100 works on view, including 12 paintings never previously exhibited in a Tanner retrospective and, on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, Tanner’s landmark Resurrection of Lazarus (1897), which he painted after he moved to France and turned to more religious subject matter. The work has never left Europe before.

The museum is also publishing what it calls “the most substantial scholarly catalogue to date on Tanner’s life,” as well as a children’s book -- safe to say another first -- by artist Faith Ringgold. Henry Ossawa Tanner: His Boyhood Dreams Come True depicts the artist’s life from his days as a bishop’s son in Pennsylvania to becoming the first African-American painter to achieve major fame in the art world.

Finally, the academy worked with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute to complete a study exploring Tanner's paint recipes, use of materials and his experimental techniques.

After Philadelphia, the exhibition travels to the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Banjo Lesson, 1893
Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Banjo Lesson, 1893

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