Visual Artist (Painter)
Being that Joe, the main character of Disney Pixar's Soul movie, was a professional jazz musician, it makes sense that a collection of fine art filled the walls of his apartment. You may have even noticed a piece by Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Banjo Lesson! (pictured behind Joe)
If you haven't checked out this black animated film, featuring a array of authentically-developed black characters, you can find it streaming on Disney+.
The cast includes well-known black Actors and Actresses including the voices of Jamie Foxx, Phylicia Rashad, Questlove (of the music group The Roots), Angela Bassett, Donnell Rawlings, and an array of other black and well-known Actors such as Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey, and the eight year old Aiyanna Miorin.
The Banjo Lesson is an oil painted, painted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1893 by Henry Ossawa Tanner
Let's learn more about this amazing work of art, and the Artist who created it!
Henry Ossawa Tanner was born on June 21, 1859, and for most of his childhood he and his family resided in this North Philadelphia home (pictured). At just 13 years old, Tanner decided to become a Painter, professionally.
Tanner's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania childhood home was made a National historic landmark in 1976.
The first African-American Artist to be recognized internationally, Tanner was the member of an accomplished African-American family. He was raised by his mother, Sarah Tanner, and father, Benjamin Tucker Tanner (pictured), a Clergyman, Editor, and friend of Frederick Douglass.
Henry Tanner's sister, Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson (pictured), was the first woman of any race to earn the certification to practice medicine in the state of Alabama.
Tanner was a self-taught Artist until 1879, when he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He went on to teach at Clark-Atlanta University, before moving to Paris, France in 1891.
France became Tanner's adopted home, and while residing there he earned the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1923, the highest national order of merit.
In 1927 Tanner was the first African-American to be elected a full member of the American National Academy of Design.
(pictured) Tanner's art studio
In 1893 Tanner briefly returned to Philadelphia for a visit, and while there he painted The Banjo Lesson.
While black entertainers, specifically Banjo Players, were often painted during this time, they were consistently depicted in unflattering minstrel-like imagery.
Tanner's depiction of the intimate scene between what is assumed to be a Grandfather and Grandson was innovative for it's time.
Tanner used a muted palette to create a soft, peaceful, nurturing scene of a private family moment. All masterfully painted!
Tanner is believed to have heavily influenced the work of Artist Norman Rockwell, with Rockwell creating a cover proposal for Literary Digest with significant similarities in composition, tone, and subject matter.
Later in his life, Tanner painted themes of religious subjects, and this is what he is often most recognized for. He used both loose and meticulously detailed styles of painting throughout his practice.
Tanner's "Sand Dunes at Sunset" was purchased by the permanent collection at the White House, and hangs in the Green Room there. Many of his works are a part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection in Washington, D.C., and his Wynkoop House - Old Haarlem now resides with the New Britain Museum of Art.
The Banjo Lesson is a part of the Hampton University Museum of Art Collection, the oldest African-American museum in the United States of America.
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