An exciting new addition to the Walters Art Museum’s nineteenth-century painting collection: Lion Drinking by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Lion Drinking by Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Walters Art Museum recently purchased at auction a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), an African American artist whose reputation has been reassessed with the major exhibition currently touring the United States: Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Walters already owns one work by Tanner: a bust of his father, Benjamin Tucker Tanner, purchased though the generosity of Eddie and Sylvia Brown. This work is featured in the exhibition currently touring. Tanner is regarded as one of the most distinguished American painters. He received his training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia under Thomas Eakins and at the Académie Julian in Paris. After 1895, he lived in Paris and painted religious works inspired by his travels in the Holy Land. The painting just purchased, Lion Drinking, dates from ca.1897 and is probably set in Palestine. It appears closely related to another painting of several lions from around the same date:Lions in the Desert (1897-98) in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. Lion Drinking complements the Walters’ holdings of nineteenth-century art remarkably well as, like the Smithsonian’s painting, the work bares a strong compositional resemblance to a work by Jean-Léon Gérôme, an artist well represented in at the Walters. The new painting will undergo treatment by conservators and get a new frame before being hung in the fourth floor galleries.