Midday in Tangier by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)

Artful Writing

World acclaimed as the first African American painter, this Tangier gateway embodies Tanner’s personal struggles against the racism of his time with his ability to paint realistic subjects with cool colors against light.  In 1891 he left Atlanta and was warmly welcomed by Paris and died there peacefully.

henry-ossawa-tannerHere is his description on the burden of race:

“I was extremely timid and to be made to feel that I was not wanted, although in a place where I had every right to be, even months afterwards caused me sometimes weeks of pain.  Every time any one of these disagreeable incidents came into my mind, my heart sank, and I was anew tortured by the thought of what I had endured, almost as much as the incident itself.  (The Story of an Artist’s Life.)

Tanner’s legacy influenced such greats as Norman Rockwell and William Edouard Scott.  His 1885 oil canvas, ‘Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City, is part of the permanent collection of the White House hanging in the Green Room.


“Get it – get it better or get it worse.  No middle ground of compromise.”