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Henry Ossawa Tanner

American (active France), 1859 - 1937

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  1. 1858
    1. Aug 19
      • Benjamin Tucker Tanner (1835 - 1923), minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, marries Sarah Elizabeth Miller (1840 - 1914).

  2. 1859
    1. Jun 21
      • Henry Ossawa Tanner born to Benjamin and Sarah Tanner.

  3. 1860
      • B. T. Tanner ordained deacon and then elder in A.M.E. Church. Family moves to Washington, D.C., where Tanner briefly serves as minister of Fifteenth Street Colored Presbyterian Church.

  4. 1861
      • B. T. Tanner founds Sabbath School for Freedmen, Washington, D.C.

  5. 1862
      • B. T. Tanner becomes director of Alexander Mission for Freedmen, Washington, D.C.

  6. 1863
      • B. T. Tanner serves as pastor of A.M.E. Church, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

  7. 1864
      • B. T. Tanner serves as principal of A.M.E. Conference School in Frederick, Maryland, until 1865.

        Halle Tanner born (d. 1901).

  8. 1865
      • Mary Louise Tanner born (d. 1935).

  9. 1866
      • B. T. Tanner briefly serves as pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, then becomes full-time principal of A.M.E. Conference School for Freedmen in Frederick, Maryland.

  10. 1867
      • Isabella Tanner born (d. unknown).

  11. 1868
      • 1868 Family moves to Philadelphia, "near Third and Pine." B. T. Tanner is appointed editor of the Christian Recorder (begun 1854), weekly journal of A.M.E. Church, a position he holds until 1884.

      • Henry attends Lombard Street School for Colored Students (known as James Forten School, 1871 - 1933) for two years.

    2. Spring
      • Family moves to house at 631 Pine Street which also serves as office of the Christian Recorder.

  12. 1869
      • Henry enters Roberts Vaux Consolidated School for Colored Students. (In 1876 the school becomes Roberts Vaux Grammar School, then the only secondary school for black students in Philadelphia.)

  13. 1870
      • Carlton M. Tanner born (d. 1933).

  14. 1872
      • Family buys house at 2908 Diamond Street (later Park Avenue) in Philadelphia.

      • While walking with father in Fairmount Park, Henry sees an artist at work and is motivated to begin painting.

  15. 1873
      • Sarah Elizabeth Tanner born (d. 1900).

  16. 1876
      • Earliest dated work, Harbor Scene, painted in Atlantic City.

  17. 1877
    1. Jul 6
      • Graduates from Roberts Vaux Grammar School with class of ten and delivers valedictory address entitled "Compulsory Education."

      • Apprenticed to family friend in flour business; by 1878, after severe illness, gains parental consent to pursue artistic career.

  18. 1878
      • Paints earliest Adirondack landscapes during convalescent trip to Rainbow Lake, New York; also visits Florida.

      • Bertha Tanner, last child of B. T. Tanner, born (d. 1962).

  19. 1879
    1. Dec
      • Begins studies at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, with Thomas Eakins; remains student sporadically through 1885.

  20. 1880
    1. Apr 29
      • The Christian Recorder reports that Henry "will be sent to Rome by some interested gentleman to study the works of the old masters" (although Tanner does not travel to Europe until 1891).

  21. 1881
      • While living with parents in Philadelphia, attempts to establish himself as painter. Serves as Sunday school superintendent at Morris Brown Mission.

    2. Jun - Sep
      • Benjamin T. Tanner travels to London to attend Ecumenical Conference of Methodism; also visits Paris.

    3. Nov
      - Mar
      • Henry is ill with "hemorrhage of the nose."

  22. 1882
    1. Summer
      • Convalesces in Adirondacks at Rainbow Lake.

    2. Jul
      • Four illustrations commissioned by Judge Albion Tourgee, editor of Our Continent, for Louise Stockton's "In the Days of Witchcraft"; three of the four appear in the August 30 edition of Our Continent.

  23. 1884
      • Benjamin T. Tanner founds quarterly periodical African Methodist Episcopal Church Review; serves as editor until 1888.

  24. 1886
    1. Sep
      • Henry rents studio at 927 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

  25. 1887
    1. May
      • Henry is one of two artists (with E. M. Bannister) included in Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising, dictionary of 177 biographies of prominent African Americans, by William J. Simmons, president of Kentucky State University, Louisville.

    2. Nov
      • Attends A.M.E. conference in Jacksonville, Florida, where he spends coming winter painting; also visits Enterprise, Florida.

  26. 1888
    1. Jan 10
      • Single illustration for Kate Upson Clark's "Old Win-ne-wan's Star" appears in Harper's Young People.

    2. Feb
      • Returns to Philadelphia from Florida.

    3. Mar
      • Models and casts bust of his earliest patron, Bishop Daniel A. Payne of A.M.E. Church.

    4. May
      • Benjamin T. Tanner elected eighteenth bishop in A.M.E. Church; serves in Eleventh Episcopal District, which included Canada, West Indies, British Guiana, and South America.

    5. Summer
      • Family resides at retreat cottage, Atlantic City.

  27. 1889
    1. Jan
      • Moves to Atlanta and opens photography gallery and "art room"; venture is unsuccessful.

    2. Summer
      • Visits the Highlands, North Carolina, for his health.

    3. Fall
      • Serves as drawing instructor at Clark University, Atlanta, position secured through efforts of a trustee, Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell, M.E.; receives first portrait commission (Professor William H. Crogman).

  28. 1891
    1. Jan 4
      • Departs for Rome via London and Paris. Decides to remain in Paris; begins study with Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens at Academic Julian. Joins American Art Students' Club of Paris through which he makes the acquaintance of Rodman Wanamaker, head of Paris branch of family retail firm.

      • Rents studio-apartment at 12 rue de Seine, Paris, through 1892.

      • Summers in Pont-Aven, Brittany.

  29. 1892
      • Summers in Concarneau, Brittany.

  30. 1893
    1. Spring
      • Shares studio with sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil at 15 rue de Seine

    2. Summer
      • Possible visit to Brittany.

        Returns to United States to recuperate from typhoid fever.

    3. Aug
      • Visits Chicago to present paper, "The American Negro in Art," at the Congress on Africa, an auxiliary congress at the World's Columbian Exposition.

  31. 1894
    1. Jan
      • Finishes bust of Bishop Payne; advertises through the Christian Recorder. Tanner sees his instructor from the Academic Julian, Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, who visits Philadelphia.

    2. Feb
      • Attends A.M.E. conference in Tallahassee, Florida.

    3. May
      • Attends commencement ceremony at Hampton Institute, Virginia, in company of Robert C. Ogden, early Philadelphia benefactor and partner in Wanamaker firm. Ogden donates Lion's Head to institute's library and loans The Bagpipe Lesson for exhibition.

    4. Summer
      • Possible visit to Brittany.

    5. Aug
      • The Christian Recorder reports that Henry is in Chicago to "fill an order" for a painting.

    6. Oct
      • John T. Morris, Philadelphia patron, purchases The Thankful Poor and lends it to Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Henry uses income to return to Paris.

    7. Nov
      • Robert C. Ogden donates The Banjo Lesson to Hampton Institute.

  32. 1895
      • Rents studio-apartment at 51 boulevard Saint-Jacques, through 1904.

        Studies with Eugène Frémiet.

    2. Fall
      • Joins American Art Association of Paris (Rodman Wanamaker, president, and Hermann Dudley Murphy, vice-president).

  33. 1897
    1. Jan
      • Bishop and Mrs. Tanner and family move to Kansas City, Kansas, where the bishop serves in Fifth Episcopal District (Missouri, Kansas, Colorado).

    2. Jan - Apr
      • Henry travels to Palestine and Egypt at expense of Rodman Wanamaker; returns via Italy with stops in Naples, Rome, Pisa, Florence, and Venice.

    3. Jun
      • Makes brief visit to England.

    4. Jul
      • Arrives in Philadelphia, then visits parents in Kansas City where he paints Portrait of the Artist's Mother.

    5. Sep
      • Returns to Paris via Philadelphia.

  34. 1898
      • Meets future wife, Jessie Macauley Olssen (1873 - 1925) of San Francisco, first at Barbizon and later in Paris.

    2. Oct
      • Second trip to Near East, through March 1899; again funded by Rodman Wanamaker.

  35. 1899
    1. Jul
      • Booker T. Washington visits Henry in Paris and writes an article about trip for Washington Colored American.

    2. Dec 14
      • Marries Jessie Macauley Olssen at Saint Giles-in-the Fields, Bloomsbury, London; honeymoon at Martigues, in the south of France.

  36. 1900
    1. Jan
      • Henry and Jessie rent apartment on rue d'Assas, Paris, overlooking Luxembourg Gardens.

        Bishop and Mrs. Tanner and family return to Philadelphia from Kansas City, Kansas.

    2. Apr
      • First major article on Henry, "A Negro Artist of Unique Power," by E. F. Baldwin, appears in the Outlook.

    3. Jun
      • "Henry O. Tanner, Painter," by Helen Cole, appears in Brush and Pencil.

    4. Jul
      • Henry and Jessie reside in Trépied, near Etaples, Pas-de-Calais (Normandy).

  37. 1901
    1. Sep
      • Henry visits with Bishop Tanner in London, where the bishop serves as delegate to Third Ecumenical Conference of Methodism.

  38. 1902
    1. Aug - Nov
      • Henry and Jessie reside with patrons and friends Atherton and Louise Curtis at Mount Kisco, New York, in small community planned by Curtises.

    2. Sep
      • First installment of the "Mothers of the Bible" series (Sarah) appears in the Ladies Home Journal; subsequent installments (Hagar, Rachel, Mary) are published through January 1903.

    3. Dec
      • "Henry Ossian (sic) Tanner," by W. S. Scarborough, appears in Southern Workman.

  39. 1903
    1. Jan - Mar
      • Henry and Jessie reside briefly in Granada, Spain, and London before returning to Paris.

    2. Jun
      • Henry and Jessie return to Mount Kisco.

    3. Aug
      • Henry invited to serve on eleven- person jury for Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1904 annual exhibition.

    4. Sep 25
      • Son, Jesse Ossawa, born in New York City.

  40. 1904
    1. Apr
      • Tanners return to Paris.

    2. Spring
      • Purchases summer house, "Les Charmes," at Trépied; helps found Société Artistique de Picardie, in the artist colony at Le Touquet, Paris-Plage, Pas-de-Calais.

    3. Oct
      • Henry rents studio at 70 bis rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris, which he maintains until 1912.

        Tanners reside with Jessie's recently retired parents, Bessie and John Olssen, at Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine.

  41. 1905
    1. Aug
      • Henry invited to serve on three-person Paris selection jury, with Walter MacEwen and Charles Morris Young, for Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1906 annual exhibition.

  42. 1906
    1. Nov
      • "Henry O. Tanner," by Florence L. Bentley, appears in the Voice of the Negro.

        Bessie Olssen dies. Tanners and John Olssen move into 70 bis rue Notre Dame-des-Champs, Paris.

  43. 1907
    1. Aug
      • Henry invited to serve on three-person Paris selection jury, with Alfred Maurer and Florence Esté, for Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1908 annual exhibition.

  44. 1908
      • Joins Paris Society of American Painters.

    2. Feb - Mar
      • Henry visits Algiers.

    3. May
      • Bishop Tanner, first A.M.E. bishop to receive pension, retires on half pay.

    4. Aug -
      • Tanners visit United States on occasion of Benjamin and Sarah Tanner's golden wedding anniversary.

    5. Oct
      • An unsigned article, "An Afro-American Painter Who Has Become Famous in Paris," appears in Current Literature.

    6. Nov
      • Visits the United States for first solo exhibition at American Art Galleries, New York; remains until May 1909.

    7. Dec
      • "Henry O. Tanner, Exile for Art's Sake," by William R. Lester, appears in Alexander's Magazine.

  45. 1909
    1. Apr
      • Elected associate member of National Academy of Design (along with Mary Cassatt and George Bellows).

    2. Jun and Jul
      • Henry's autobiographical "The Story of an Artist's Life" appears in two issues of the World's Work.

    3. Fall
      • Jesse attends Hillcrest School at Folkestone (Kent), England, through 1914; funded by Atherton Curtis.

  46. 1911
    1. Jan
      • "Henry O. Tanner" entry appears in eleventh edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    2. Jan - Apr
      • Visits United States to attend solo exhibition at Thurber Art Galleries, Chicago; also visits Philadelphia and New York.

    3. Mar
      • "Henry O. Tanner's Biblical Pictures" by F. J. Campbell appears in Fine Arts Journal.

  47. 1912
      • Tanners return to former studio-apartment at 51 boulevard Saint-Jacques, which Henry will keep until 1934.

    2. Mar - Jun
      • Travels to Tangier and other cities in Morocco.

        Purchases land at Trepied, Picardy.

  48. 1913
    1. Jan - Mar
      • Visits United States to attend solo exhibition at Thurber Art Galleries, Chicago; also visits Muskegon, Michigan, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and New York.

    2. Jan
      • Henry and Jessie attend annual conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Philadelphia.

        Elected president of Société Artistique de Picardie, Le Touquet, Paris-Plage.

  49. 1914
    1. Aug 14
      • Sarah Elizabeth Miller Tanner dies.

    2. Aug
      • With outbreak of war, Trépied evacuated. Tanners travel to England to reenroll Jesse in Hillcrest School.

    3. Sep
      • Return to Trépied, where Tanners become involved in relief work.

        Henry becomes member of American Negro Academy, Washington, D.C.

  50. 1915
    1. Jan - Apr
      • Visits Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.

    2. May - Jun
      • Brief visit to England.

  51. 1916
    1. Winter
      • Tanners reside at Vittel, a health resort in the Vosges Mountains.

    2. May
      • Jessie returns to Trépied, where she remains primarily until the end of the war.

  52. 1917
    1. Dec
      • Henry serves in the American Red Cross, France, until June 1919, first as lieutenant in Department of Public Information then as assistant director of Farm and Garden Services.

  53. 1918
    1. Winter
      • Submits a proposal, subsequently accepted, to the American Red Cross, Bureau of Hospital Farms and Gardens, that calls for the utilization of vacant land around hospitals and base depots for the raising of potatoes and other garden vegetables by convalescent patients.

    2. Fall
      • Makes sketches of Red Cross activities in the region of Vittel and Neulch√¢teau, Vosges.

  54. 1920
      • Tanners sell Les Charmes and build Edgewood, another summer house, at Trépied.

  55. 1921
    1. Fall
      • Jesse enters Cambridge University to study mining engineering; again funded by Atherton Curtis.

  56. 1923
    1. Jan 15
      • Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner dies.

      • Henry elected chevalier of Legion of Honor by French government.

    3. Dec
      • Visits United States for last time, and remains until March 22, 1924. Rents studio at 246 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. Accepts commissions for a bronze tablet for Bethel Church, Philadelphia, and for a painting of Nicodemus Coming to Christ for Cheyney Training School for Teachers, Cheyney, Pennsylvania.

  57. 1924
      • Jesse graduates from Cambridge University and enters Royal School of Mines, London.

    2. Apr
      • "Henry O. Tanner," by Jessie Fauset, appears in the Crisis.

  58. 1925
    1. Aug
      • Cover of the Crisis features drawing of Tanner, together with W. E. B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Alexandre Dumas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

    2. Sep 8
      • Jessie Macauley Olssen Tanner dies at Etaples, Pas-de Calais; buried at Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine.

  59. 1926
    1. Jun
      • Jesse completes study in London and accepts position with geophysical department of Anglo-Persian Oil Company; a case of "nervous exhaustion" forces him to leave in October.

  60. 1927
    1. Oct
      • Henry elected full academician of National Academy of Design.

  61. 1930
      • Joins European chapter of American Artists Professional League.

  62. 1932
      • Joins Allied Artists of America, New York.

  63. 1934
    1. Jun
      • Moves to last studio apartment, 43 rue de Fleurus.

  64. 1937
    1. May 25
      • Henry Ossawa Tanner dies in Paris; buried at Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine.

Kathleen James and Sylvia Yount, from Henry Ossawa Tanner (1991), pp. 35-52.

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