Strokes of a Genius

Hill District native Henry Ossawa Tanner's paintings are displayed in the White House and locally at Carnegie Museum of Art.



Henry Ossawa Tanner's "The Banjo Lesson"

Celebrate African-American History Month with a trip to the Carnegie in Oakland to view paintings by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), one of America’s first highly acclaimed black painters.

Tanner was born in the Hill District to Benjamin Tucker, a Methodist Episcopal minister, and Sarah Tanner, a runaway slave. When he was 20, Tanner enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, which was pioneering a realistic approach in American art.

Although he is most famous for “The Banjo Lesson,” a painting of an elderly black musician teaching a small boy to strum a banjo, which is now on display at Hampton University Museum, Tanner made relatively few works depicting the African-American experience. More typical are landscape scenes, such as “Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City,” which hangs in the White House.

Tanner also created many religious-themed paintings, including “Christ at Home of Mary and Martha,” which is on display at Carnegie Museum of Art and is an example of Tanner’s ability to combine the sacred and the ordinary. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. $15; seniors, $12; students and children, $11; members and children under 3, free. Info: cmoa.org)

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh's Dog Rescuers

Pittsburgh's Dog Rescuers

Two local businessmen have found a worthwhile weekend job –– flying dogs in need of rescue.
Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

Cutch as a Steeler? Tomlin Likes the Idea

The Steelers coach says he has just the right role in mind for the Pirates outfielder.
Feed the Meter from your Phone? There May Soon be an App for That

Feed the Meter from your Phone? There May Soon be an App for That

But the plan from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority may have some strings attached.
Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

The boxing drama "Southpaw" is set to arrive in theaters in late July.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
PittGirl: Preparing for a World Series Toast

PittGirl: Preparing for a World Series Toast

Thanks to her husband believing in "happy wife, happy life," PittGirl has the perfect wine to celebrate the Pirates' ultimate victory.
Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module