Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures, c. 1909
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Dallas Museum of Art
Critically acclaimed on two continents for his religious scenes, Henry Ossawa Tanner used his wife, Jessie, and their son, Jesse, as models for the Virgin and Christ in this work, giving it a double resonance as both a meditative biblical scene and a tender family portrait. Tanner was the first African American artist to establish an international reputation. After studying with Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia, he pursued a career in Paris, where the professional and societal obstacles facing people of color were not as severe as in nineteenth-century America.