Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937

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Notes:Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first internationally acclaimed African American artist. His art reflects the influence of the AME church, his father, and his own views on race and education. In this painting, he counters common African American stereotypes of his day, which often offensively misrepresented African Americans and their belief systems.

While many mainstream churchgoers believed the African American faith to be overly emotional and expressive, this painting stands in stark contrast to those kinds of caricatures. This piece shows an older gentleman with (perhaps) his grandson praying before a meal. In their impoverished state, they have their heads bowed in a dignified pose as they participate in a common daily ritual. It is a simple, yet effective display of two devoted subjects giving thanks for that which they do possess.

Artist:Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937
Building:Private collection

Scripture:Luke 11:1-13
Corinthians I, 1:1-9
Psalm 36:5-11
Lectionary links:CProp12
General Subject:Lords Prayer
Culture: African American
Culture: Black

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Copyright Source:,_1894._Henry_Ossawa_Tanner.jpg
Copyright Permission:Please visit the URL in the Copyright Source field on this page for details about reusing this image.
Attribution:Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Thankful, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved December 10, 2023]. Original source:,_1894._Henry_Ossawa_Tanner.jpg.
Record Number:56998 Last Updated: 2022-04-20 17:18:00 Record Created: 2019-07-05 12:53:18
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition