Saturday, August 28, 2010

Christ in the Wilderness Surrounded by Angels

Title: Christ in the Wilderness Surrounded by Angels

Artist: Charles de La Fosse

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Size: 143 x 193 cm

Date: c. 1690

Location: Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

Matthew 4:11: Then the devil leaves him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Christ was succored after the temptation, God's agents providing for Jesus' as soon as he has vanquished his foe. After three high-stake tests the devil is driven away, and therefore Jesus can later state, in Matthew 12:29, “How can anyone go into a strong man’s house and steal his property? First he must tie up the strong man. Then he can go through his house and steal his property.” Jesus can say that he is freeing Satan's possessions because he has already bound the strong man. Jesus is the new Moses who will provide bread for his people, whom God will deliver by the resurrection, and who will eventually rule the nations.

This painting shows Jesus on the verge of ecstasy, his face a mixture of triumph and exhaustion. Having put his trust in the Lord he waits, as down, through a celestial light, the angles descend towards him, gather at his feet, bring trays of nourishment. The light from above is golden and cascades like a spotlight across the angels and onto Jesus. But unlike the angels, whose only illumination is from God’s light, Jesus is depicted with a faint nimbus, a sign that he, too, is Holy.

Charles de La Fosse (1636, Paris - 1716, Paris), also spelled Delafosse, was a French painter. Know for his decorative historical and allegorical murals, his work continued a variant of the stately French Baroque manner of the 17th century, while to developing a lighter, more brightly colored style that presaged the Rococo painting of the 18th century. La Fosse was impressed with the works of the 16th-century Italians Francesco Primaticcio, Titian, and Paolo Veronese, which he studied during his five year stay in Rome and Venice. His greatest work was the decoration of the cupola of the Church of Les Invalides in Paris, while more significant to later critics are his smaller works remarkable for their use of light and their fresh color sense. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1673 and was named chancellor in 1715.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain

Title: The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain

Artist: William Hole

Medium: Printed book illustration

Size: 29 x 24 cm

Date: c.1905

Location: From “The Life of Jesus of Nazareth Portrayed in Colours.” London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

Matthew 4:8-10: Again the devil takes him to a very high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, and says to him, All these things will I give thee if, falling down, thou wilt do me homage. Then says Jesus to him, Get thee away, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt do homage to the Lord thy God, and him alone shalt thou serve.

Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary. Christ was tempted to worship Satan. He rejected the proposal with abhorrence. Some temptations are openly wicked; and they are not merely to be opposed, but rejected at once. It is good to be quick and firm in resisting temptation. If we resist the devil he will flee from us. But the soul that deliberates is almost overcome. We find but few who can decidedly reject such baits as Satan offers.

William Hole (b. Salisbury 1846 – d. 1917) relocated to Edinburgh as a youth where he received his education at the Edinburgh Academy. But after serving as an apprentice to a civil engineer in the city, he decided that he wanted to see more of the world. While traveling through Italy he befriended some artists in Rome who convinced him that he should pursue a career in art. On returning to Edinburgh, he began formal training in both painting and etching at the Royal Scottish Academy. In the early 1900's Hole actually travelled to the Holy land and painted his pictures on the spot. Even depicting such amazing events as Jesus’ temptation by the devil, these pictures still retain an air of authenticity.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Temptation of Christ

Title: Temptation of Christ

Artist: James B. Janknegt

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 66 x 60 cm

Date: 1990

Location: tbd.

Matthew 4:5-7: Then the devil takes him to the holy city, and sets him upon the edge of the temple, and says to him, If thou be Son of God cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give charge to his angels concerning thee, and on their hands shall they bear thee, lest in anywise thou strike thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, It is again written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

The devil tempted Christ to presume upon his Father's power and protection, in a point of safety. There are no extremes more dangerous than despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Satan has no objection to staging his assaults at holy places. The holy city is the place where he does, with the greatest advantage, tempt men to pride and presumption. All high places are slippery places; advancements in the world makes a man a mark for the Tempter. Satan is well versed in Scripture and able to quote it readily. It is possible for a man to have his head full of Scripture, and his mouth full of Scripture, while his heart is full of bitter enmity to God.

This portrait of Christ’s temptation brilliantly contains the elements of his battle to resist the tempter, from the updated landscape of the “Holy city”, to the images of a tumbling Jesus in the irises of this own eyes. The predominant red hues further suggest the struggle that Jesus faces, the taunts of the devil prefiguring those cast at Jesus at his own crucifixion: He saved others; himself he cannot save (Mark 15:31).

James B. Janknegt was born in Austin, Texas. A self-confessed Jesus Freak while in high school, Jim became part of The Well, a trans-denominational coffee house where he painted murals on the walls and sang in the folk group. He attended art school at the University of Texas in Austin and graduated with a BFA in 1978. He left Texas and moved to Iowa City to attend graduate school, graduating with an MA and MFA. He has exhibited his work in multiple galleries and museums. Further of his work can be viewed at

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Temptation of Christ

Title: The Temptation of Christ

Artist: Titian (Tiziano Vecelli)

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 90 x 70 cm

Date: c. 1516-1525

Location: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Matthew 4:3-4: And the tempter coming up to him said, If thou be Son of God, speak, that these stones may become loaves of bread. But he answering said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through God's mouth.

This painting portrays one of three temptations that Christ faced during his forty days fast in the desert. Christ is being tempted by a young demon, perhaps symbolizing the true corruption of innocence, that presents a stone and challenges Christ to perform the miracle of turning it into bread, proving that he is truly the Son of God. He is tempted to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition; and those who are brought into straits have need to double their guard. Christ answered all the temptations of Satan with “It is written”; to set an example, he appealed to what was written in the Scriptures. Let us learn not to take any wrong courses for our supply when our wants are ever so pressing: in some way the Lord will provide. Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, may have commissioned this painting in about 1516-25.

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488 – August 1572) better known as Titian, was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, in the Republic of Venice. Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars" (recalling the famous final line of Dante's Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. Few of the pupils and assistants of Titian became well-known in their own right; for some being his assistant was probably a lifetime career, but it is said that Titian employed El Greco (or Dominikos Theotokopoulos) in his last years.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Temptation In The Wilderness

Title: The Temptation In The Wilderness

Artist: Briton Riviere

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: tbd

Date: 1898

Location: Guildhall Art Gallery, London.

Matthew 4:1-2: Then Jesus was carried up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil: and having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he hungered.

Directly after he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, Jesus was tempted; great privileges, and special tokens of Divine favor, will not secure any from being tempted. Satan aimed in all his temptations to bring Christ to sin against God. The enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring; but he can be resisted. It is a comfort to us that Christ, being tempted, found strength, and that the Holy Spirit, witness to our being adopted as children of God, that will answer all the suggestions of the evil spirit.

"The Temptation In the Wilderness" is an example of the artist's technical skill and knowledge, and is also interesting as being the successful outcome of an experiment in color. The painter decided to express the sentiment of his subject almost entirely by means of color, i.e. by the white figure of the Christ against the sunset glow of the sky, both sky and figure being focused by the gloom of the landscape. He made many notes of the color effects derived from the juxtaposition of white and sunset, and found, as he expected and hoped, that the white, in shadow with the cold light of the south-eastern sky, appeared almost as a bright blue against the warm north-western sunset sky. This enabled him to dispense with the conventional nimbus of purely ecclesiastical pictures, and yet achieve an effect of the miraculous by showing, as if by accident, the white evening star, greatly magnified by the composition, just over the head of the Savior.

Briton Riviere (1840-1920) was an Irish artist born in London, England. The son of an artistic father, gave early promise of distinction in the realm of art. At the age of eighteen he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and his pictures became an annual feature at Burlington House after his twenty-sixth year. He was elected an A.R.A. in 1878, and was admitted to full membership in 1881. He is best known as a painter of wild animals, in which field he stands supreme. Even in this branch of art he has successfully introduced the religious element, as may be seen in his popular painting of "Daniel in the Lions' Den" in the Walker Art Gallery.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Christ on the Road to Emmaus

Title: Christ on the Road to Emmaus

Artist: Unknown

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 64 x 77 cm

Date: c. 1725

Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Luke 24:13-24: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

Thomas gets all the contemporary press as a doubter of the resurrection, but it is clear that he was merely one of a crowd, and these two followers are not yet convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Like modern people in their skepticism, they will be persuaded only if they actually see Jesus. Here, then, is the major lesson of the Emmaus Road experience: though resurrection is hard to believe, be assured that it took place. Its reality means that Jesus' claims are true. He was more than a teacher and more than a prophet. He was the promised, anointed one of God. A host of skeptics saw that this was so, and they believed. Remember what God required of his Messiah: suffering, then vindication in exaltation.

Religion has always been a major inspiration for the folk artist. In the beginning of the eighteenth century new waves of immigrant painters arrived in the United States who were influenced by the High Renaissance concepts of painting by Italian and Dutch artists fulfilling commissions in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the Hudson Valley, Dutch settlers between New York City in the south and Albany in the north produced a body of religious art of great significance. They and their descendants adorned their walls with paintings based on illustrations in Bibles brought from the Netherlands. Backgrounds were simplified and stylized, and the painting often had a linear, two-dimensional feeling.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Resurrected Christ

Title: The Resurrected Christ

Artist: Unknown

Medium: Fresco

Size: tbd

Date: c. 1750

Location: Kalvária, Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia.

This depiction of The Resurrection is in the Cupola of the Upper Church at the Calvary complex in Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The resurrected Christ appears standing on top of a cloud. Resplendent in divine light, wounds plainly visible, he holds aloft the cross and banner symbolizing triumph over death. Angels and cherubs swirl around, some gaping in awe while others are playing musical instruments. At this moment of Glory there can be no doubt God has power over Jesus' life and death, as he has power over all life and death. God is the Creator of life and is sovereign over death. If he points an endorsing finger at Jesus, how can humanity doubt him?

The Calvary complex consists of 25 buildings, including three churches and chapels decorated with invaluable paintings. There also are wood and ironwork furnishings and painted wooden reliefs. The chapels and churches are built on a steep slope of a dormant volcano called Scharffenberg (Sharp Hill). The Calvary’s foundation stone was laid in 1744 under cooperation of both the Catholics and Protestants. The work continued until 1751 conducted by the creator of the whole construction idea, a Jesuit priest František Perger, most probably based on an architectural rendering elaborated by a well renowned polyhistor, cartographer and constructor Samuel Mikovíni.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Dead Appear in Jerusalem

Title: The Dead Appear in Jerusalem

Artist: James Tissot

Medium: Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper

Size: 27.6 x 19 cm

Date: c. 1890

Location: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

Matthew 27:50-54: And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

To both pagan and Jewish audiences these signs would indicate divine approval of Jesus and disapproval of his executioners. The raising of dead persons at Jesus' death reminds us that by refusing to save himself, Jesus did save others. Yet by mentioning only “many” of the saints, Matthew clearly intends this sign merely to prefigure the final resurrection, proleptically signified in Jesus' death and resurrection

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (October 15, 1836 – August 8, 1902) was a French painter. To the surprise of all his friends, he suddenly found religion in his late 40s and decided to tell the story of Christ's passion in 350 illustrations. He conceived them not only in the realist style, but in the Orientalist idiom of Gérôme and Fromentin. The guiding intellectual force behind the images was Ernest Renan, whose "Vie de Jésus" (1863), one of the most influential books of the 19th century, who undertook to track down "the historical Jesus." The point of Tissot's watercolors was not to diminish Christ, as critics alleged, but rather to make him acceptable to that part of contemporary culture that could no longer accept Christ through the gauze of scriptural authority, that had to see him face to face.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Trinity with the Dead Christ

Title: The Trinity with the Dead Christ

Artist: Ludovico Carracci

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 173 x 127 cm

Date: c. 1590

Location: Pinacoteca, Vatican.

According to the Trinity doctrine, God exists as three persons, or hypostases, but is one single divine nature. Some faiths profess that, in addition, the second person of the Trinity — God the Son — assumed human nature as Jesus, so that he has two natures (and hence two wills), and is really and fully both true God and true human. As stated in the Chalcedonian Creed: “truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body”.

In this painting Lodovico managed to express the transcendent in terms of great intimacy and sincere humanity, qualities that were to be indispensable in the formation of artists such as the young Guercino. The subject, very unusual at the time of the Counter-Reformation, goes back to a purely medieval iconographic idea. Instead of the traditional, hierarchical representation of the Trinity, Lodovico combines this theme with a scene of the Pieta, in which Christ is received into the Father's arms rather than those of the Virgin.

Ludovico (or Lodovico) Carracci (April 1555 – November 1619) was an Italian, early-Baroque painter, etcher, and printmaker born in Bologna. The Carracci was a family of Bolognese painters, the brothers Agostino (1557-1602) and Annibale (1560-1609) were cousins of Lodovico, and were prominent figures at the end of the 16th century in the movement against the prevailing Mannerist artificiality of Italian painting. Lodovico was by temperament a fairly shy person who never found real success, unlike his cousin Annibale. Lodovico left Bologna only for brief periods and directed the Carracci academy by himself after his cousins left for Rome. His work, at its best, is highly personal and has a passionate and poetic quality.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Miracle at Nain

Title: Miracle at Nain

Artist: Mario Minniti

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 245 x 320 cm

Date: c 1620

Location: The Regional Museum of Messina, Sicily.

Luke 7:11-17: Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

The widow weeps for the loss of her only child. She is now all alone in a hostile world; no family to care for her. Recognizing her intense pain, Jesus approaches the corpse on the plank. He touches the plank--an act that would render him ceremonially unclean, but that pictures his compassion. He tells the corpse to rise up. If there were no authority behind his words, the action would be blackly humorous or tragically misguided. But Jesus reveals the extent of his authority by confronting death.

This work identifies several characteristics of Minniti’s style as dense and rapid brushstrokes, the yield of the flesh, the choice of warm brown hues lit here and there by red and ocher. If the figure of Christ with outstretched arm to the boy remembers the position and gesture of the same subject painted by Caravaggio in Resurrection of Lazarus, it takes a different approach in the enveloping background which, although idealized, may contain a reference to the real landscape visible in Messina. In the painting, full of humor and enlivened by the late Mannerist Venetian tonality, we capture that special references to local artistic climate that between the second and third decade of the seventeenth century reflected in a more sedate turn-of-the-century naturalism.

Mario Minniti (December 1577 – November 1640) was an Italian artist active in Sicily after 1606. Very little is known of Minniti’s childhood, family life or education. His movements are better recorded after 1593, when, at the age of fifteen, he moved to Rome, following the death of his father. There he became the friend, collaborator and model of the Baroque painter Caravaggio. His main fame today is his identification, or proposed identification, as a model in many of Caravaggio's early works.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Resurrection of the Flesh

Title: Resurrection of the Flesh

Artist: Luca Signorelli

Medium: Fresco

Size: tbd

Date: 1499-1502

Location: Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto.

John 5:25-29: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

Signorelli went to Orvieto, and on 5 April 1499 was awarded the contract for the decoration of the blank sections of vaulting over the altar in the Cappella Nuova. The Cappella Nuova contained a couple of frescos which had been begun by Fra Angelico, but the remainder had been left unfinished for about 50 years. The works of Signorelli in the vaults and on the upper walls represent the events surrounding the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment.

Two giant angels with long trumpets stand in the sky, blasting, banners unfurling. The banner, white with red cross, symbolizes the victory of the resurrected Christ over death. The symbol was derived from the 4th century vision of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and follows his use of a cross on the Roman Standard. Below the angels the earth is an off-white, flat and featureless stage, stretching away and stopping at an abrupt horizon in the middle distance. Its plain whiteness sets off the bronzed flesh and the shadows of the risen and rising humans, both male and female. Viewed all together the huge frescoes give an impression of overcrowding and of confusion which at first is far from pleasing. But the individual details demonstrate the greatness of Signorelli as an illustrator: the macabre but hilarious idea of the nude with his back to the observer who is carrying on a conversation with the skeletons; or the skulls surfacing through the cracks in the ground, who put on their bodies as though they were a costume. They pull themselves up through the ground, and offer helping hands, and gather and embrace in a big reunion. In this section of the fresco cycle Signorelli has given free rein to his inventive genius which is still an extremely important part of our figurative heritage.

Luca Signorelli (ca. 1450, Cortona - 1523, Cortona) was an Italian Renaissance painter who was noted in particular for his ability as a draughtsman and his use of foreshortening. The massive frescoes of the Last Judgment in Orvieto Cathedral are considered his masterpiece. He displayed a mastery of the nude in a wide variety of poses surpassed at that time only by Michelangelo, and it was said that his works were highly praised by Michelangelo, and several instances of close similarity between the work of the two men can be cited. By the end of his career, however, Luca had become a conservative artist, working in provincial Cortona, where his large workshop produced numerous altarpieces.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter

Title: The Raising of Jairus' Daughter

Artist: Edwin Longsden Long

Medium: oil on canvas

Size: 163 x 183 cm

Date: 1889

Location: Victoria Art Gallery, Bath.

Mark 5:35-43: While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The artist shows the most dramatic of moment of this passage, just before the girl comes back to life. Her parents and a disciple watch with anticipation as the miracle takes place. Jesus had sent the faithless outside, put them out, keeping only those who believed with him in the room. The window to the right of the picture, with a view of the city of Nazareth, is the primary source of light within the scene. But the reflection off the face of Jesus, most notably the illumination provided on his mouth and beard, make it seem as though the words ‘Talitha koum” are also a source of light.

Edwin Long (12 July 1829 – 15 May 1891) was an English genre, history, and portrait painter, born at Kelston, near Bath. After working locally as a portrait painter, he moved to London in the 1850s and became a very successful artist, painting Middle Eastern scenes populated with beautiful young women. Long was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1870 and an academician (RA) in 1881. Although he only painted a few Biblical pictures, religion was very important to Long. His parents had given him a religious upbringing; they were Congregationalist Dissenters and attended chapel regularly. Long never forgot his place of birth: in the 1880s he moved into an imposing house which he called Kelston.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Savior

Title: The Savior

Artist: Henry Ossawa Tanner

Medium: oil on canvas mounted on plywood

Size: 74 x 55 cm

Date: c 1900-05

Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Luke 23:8-12: When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

Like a terminally ill patient, Jesus knows that death is around the corner. Our mortality is a frightening thing. Jesus faces it by doing what he always did: he took his concerns to God in prayer. Jesus walks into his valley of the shadow of death through the heavenly courts of God's presence.

The story of Christ’s crucifixion occupied Henry Ossawa Tanner’s mind throughout his career. The Savior shows Jesus meditating as he waits for his crown of thorns and purple robe, in which he would be mocked as the “King of the Jews.” Tanner portrayed him as a real person in contemplation and prayer rather than as an idealized figure. But the yellow color in his face and outlining his profile is like a glowing light that suggests Christ’s uniqueness as a spiritual being, able to transcend flesh and blood.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (Pittsburgh, PA 1859 - Paris, France 1937) was an African American artist who earned international acclaim for his religious paintings. His father was a prominent minister and his mother a former slave who escaped the South through the Underground Railroad. At age eleven, Tanner decided to become an artist, and nine years later the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts accepted him, the only African American out of two hundred students. Throughout his life Tanner kept close ties with his native country and was proud of his contributions as a black American, but chose to live in France, where he felt that his race mattered less to other artists and critics.