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Monet to Matisse: Masterworks of French Impressionism is on view now!
Henry Ossawa Tanner
oil on canvas
Canvas: 15 1/8 × 25 3/16 inches (38.4 × 64 cm)Framed: 23 × 33 × 3 inches (58.4 × 83.8 × 7.6 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase with funds from the bequest of Shirley Carson.
Accession Number
African-American expatriate painter Henry Ossawa Tanner attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under Thomas Eakins. In 1891, dissatisfied with his life as an artist in America, he left for Europe to continue his studies, proclaiming that he “could not fight prejudice and paint at the same time.” After studying at the Académie Julian and enjoying great success at the annual Salon exhibitions, he made Paris his permanent home.

Tanner is best known for his religious paintings, but he also painted genre scenes, animals, portraits, and landscapes. This untitled marine painting was painted in the romantic-realist tradition; Tanner captures the craggy rocks, the partly cloudy sky, the rippling water and the leisurely figures on the beach with rapid brush strokes of paint. The artist’s treatment of the massive cliffs and rocks, the liquid sea and the vaporous sky is soft, poetic and typically his own.