Lot 4: 1908 1st US exhibition of Black master painter Henry Ossawa Tanner
15th December 2016
Author: N/A; Title: Program for the first major US exhibition of Black master painter and American emigre Henry Ossawa Tanner; Place Published: N/A; Publisher: N/A; Date Published: 1908; Description: (Program) The Cleveland School of Art Special Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, February 1908. 5 x 7.5", 8pp. in original wrappers.Very rare catalogue of an exhibition of paintings by six American artists "resident in France", most notably, Henry Ossawa Tanner - the first internationally-acclaimed African-American artist.Born in Pennsylvania before the Civil War to a Minister of the AME Church, his mother being an escaped slave, the young man, confronting northern racism after formal art education, emigrated to France during the Belle Epoque of the 1890s and was readily accepted in Parisian artistic circles, acclaimed for his paintings of biblical themes. Not until the seventeenth year of his European residence did the American public have the opportunity, in this exhibition, to view Tanner's work. after he had gained fame on the Continent. The Cleveland showing was the second leg of the exhibition, which began, a week earlier, at the Art Institute of Chicago. This shortened version of the Chicago catalogue includes what was undoubtedly Tanner's first biographic sketch published in America (which makes no reference to his race) and lists his six paintings on display - Daniel In the Lions Den, Judas, Hebron, Escape of Paul-Moonlight, Disciples See Christ Walking Upon the Water, and Jew of Jerusalem.The Chicago catalogue is scarce, but this Cleveland imprint, in near-fine condition, may be the only surviving copy. WorldCat locates no other held by any American institution. A fine acquisition for the connoisseur of African-American art in general, and, in particular, Tanner's paintings, which now fetch six figures on the international art market.
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