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Henry Ossawa Tanner

Born, 1859 in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Died, 1937

Henry Tanner was one of a number of artists included in Great Negroes Past and Present, an iconic publication, by Russell L. Adams, first published in 1963. The book was a bold attempt to bring to a general readership something of the majestic history African Americans and others of African origin had played in the building of, and history of, the US. The brief biographical sketches were of outstanding Africans and Africans who made distinguished contributions to history, to science and industry, to fine arts, to education and religion, and to the performing arts. The biographical sketches were accompanied by illustrations by Eugene Winslow. Numerous personalities were represented in Great Negroes Past and Present, and section XII was dedicated to VISUAL ART, and introduced its readers to artists such as Charles WhiteRobert Duncanson, Edward M. Bannister, Horace Pippin, Richard H. Hunt, and Jacob Lawrence

Each artist was represented by a one page outline included a text, and a portrait rendering of them.

Reginald Gammon’s painting, Homage to Henry O. Tanner, Painter, was illustrated alongside an essay, Black Artists in the United States, by James Denmark, in a 1971 anthology of essays on Black Life and Culture in the United States, edited and with an introduction by Rhoda L. Goldstein as seen by men and women creating today’s revolution in the classroom, the community, and the arts. (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971).

Within the Black Romantic catalogue’s text is All Good: Interview with Alonzo Adams, by LeRonn Brooks, illustrated with one of Adams’ paintings. In the interview, Adams states “Well, everyone knows I love Charles White, I’m a big Charles White fan. I’m a big [Henry Ossawa] Tanner fan and I’m a big fan of Thomas Eakins, his teacher. I was a big fan of Rembrandt. There was also a French artist named Jean Millet, I love his work. believe it or not, I like a lot of contemporary Asian artists, too. I love their work, the ones who work in the traditional realistic and impressionistic styles…”

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