Live Auction

Day Two: The Fine Sale

Sat, Oct 26, 2019 11:00AM EDT
Lot 3470

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937): Cairo

Estimate: $15,000 - $30,000
Sold for

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$200 $50
$500 $100
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$30,000 $2,500
$100,000 $5,000
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937): Cairo

Oil on panel, 1897, signed 'H O Tanner' and titled lower right, with the artist's estate stamp and an oil sketch on the reverse.

8 1/2 x 13 in., 13 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (frame).

Note: American painter Henry Tanner is considered the most distinguished African-American artist of the 19th century and the first artist of his race to achieve international recognition and success. Tanner was was born in Pittsburgh, PA where his mother, a former slave, was sent from the south through the Underground Railroad. Sarah Miller married Benjamin Tucker Tanner, a college-educated teacher and minister who later became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church. In 1864, the Tanner family settled in Philadelphia where Henry's early artistic talents were recognized and developed. After a period of illness, Tanner enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at age twenty-one. There he was greatly influenced by Thomas Eakins who was his teacher and mentor. Tanner tried his hand at several business ventures in the arts but when none were successful he set sail for Europe in 1891. Intending to settle in Rome, Tanner fell in love with Paris and there he studied at the Academie Julien, soon painting two of his most important works depicting Africa-American subjects, The Banjo Lesson , from 1893 and The Thankful Poor in 1894. In 1895, Tanner focused his attention on religious subjects and it is with those paintings that he made his reputation and gained international acclaim. Sales of his paintings of Biblical subjects financed trips to Palestine, Egypt and Morocco. The subject here is Cairo, painted in 1897 during a trip to Egypt. Tanner mantained close ties to his family in America but chose to live with his wife and son in France where he felt his race was less of an issue to fellow artists, critics and patrons. 


The estate of the artist; Sold Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, January 24-26, 1974, Lot 589.

Property from the Estate of Martin and Faith-Dorian Wright


Some unobtrusive surface soiling. The panel with a loss at the upper right corner. An oil sketch and various ink marks on the reverse. Otherwise in very good condition. Not withstanding this report or any discussion concerning condition of a lot, all lots are offered and sold "as is" in accordance with our conditions of sale.