Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit

View of The Seine, Looking Toward Notre Dame, 1896, Oil on canvas, 14 7/8 x 20 1/8 in., Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

January 28 - April 15, 2012

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, January 28 - April 15, 2012
  • Cincinnati Art Museum, May 26 - September 9, 2012
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 21, 2012 - January 13, 2013

Fisher Brooks Gallery, Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building

During the run of the exhibition, visitors can enjoy evening hours on Wednesdays (10 a.m. - 8 p.m.) and free admission on Sundays.

The subject of this exhibition is the career and life of the artist Henry O. Tanner (1859-1937) - including the pioneering African-American artist’s upbringing in Philadelphia in the years after the Civil War; the artist’s success as an American expatriate artist at the highest levels of the international art world at the turn of the 20th century; Tanner’s role as a leader of an artist’s colony in rural France and his unique contributions in aid of American servicemen to the Red Cross efforts in WWI France; his modernist invigoration of religious painting deeply rooted in his own faith; Tanner’s depictions of the Holy Land and North Africa interpreted through comparison with contemporary French orientalist painting and photography; and the scientific and technical innovations of the artist’s oeuvre.
Henry O. Tanner was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1879 to 1885. PAFA is proud to organize this exhibition, and especially to elevate Tanner’s reputation through new scholarship and to bring his greatest works together for the first time in a generation.
The nationally touring exhibition, major catalog, and attendant educational programming, will include:
Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art

Presenting Philadelphia Area Sponsor: Exelon Foundation

Presenting Foundation Sponsors: The Terra Foundation for American Art and the Henry Luce Foundation.




This exhibition has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition and publication do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Leading support from the Mr. & Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc.


Major corporate support from PECO.   

Participating support from Valentino D. Carlotti, the Edna W. Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, and the Philadelphia Foundation.

Media support provided by The Philadelphia Tribune. WHYY is a proud community partner.


PAFA's special exhibitions in 2011-12 are supported by generous contributions from Max N. Berry, Esq, Donald R. Caldwell, Jonathan L. Cohen, and Lori Levine Ordover and Janusz Ordover.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ public programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency).