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The Annunciation
The Annunciation, 1898
Henry Ossawa Tanner, American (active France)
Oil on canvas
57 x 71 1/4 inches (144.8 x 181 cm) Framed: 73 3/4 x 87 1/4 inches (187.3 x 221.6 cm)
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1899
W1899-1-1
[ More Details ]

Let's Look

  • Who is this person?
    How old do you think she is?
    What is she wearing?
  • How is she sitting?
    How is she holding her hands and her body?
    What expression does she have on her face?
  • Where is she?
    What does her room look like?
    Is it simple or fancy?
  • Do you notice anything else unusual in this room?

Let’s Look Again

  • Where in the world could this scene be taking place?
  • If you could step into this painting, how would it feel—warm or cool? Make lists of all the warm and cool colors.
    Imagine changing one of them, like the robe in the lower-right corner. How would this make the painting feel different?
  • Why do you think Tanner represented the angel Gabriel as a column of light?

 

 

 

Connect and Compare

  • Compare Tanner’s depiction of the Annunciation with the painting below of the same subject by Francisco de Zurbarán, dating from 1630. Find the lines and shapes in each painting that link the figures of Mary and the angel. Print out these reproductions and use a marker to draw them. Explain in writing what you have discovered.
The Annunciation
The Annunciation, 1898
Henry Ossawa Tanner, American (active France)
Oil on canvas
57 x 71 1/4 inches (144.8 x 181 cm) Framed: 73 3/4 x 87 1/4 inches (187.3 x 221.6 cm)
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1899
W1899-1-1
[ More Details ]
The Annunciation
The Annunciation, c. 1650
Francisco de Zurbarán, Spanish
Oil on canvas
85 5/8 x 124 1/2 inches (217.5 x 316.2 cm)
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1900
W1900-1-16
[ More Details ]
  • Research the route Tanner traveled from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Atlanta and on to Paris, Israel, and Egypt.
  • Tanner made paintings of other Bible stories, such as The Raising of Lazarus and Daniel in the Lions’ Den. Explain how each of these stories, and the story of the Annunciation, could represent the hopes and concerns of African Americans who experience discrimination.

Related Art Project

Take turns posing for one another. Each "model" picks a card with one of these phrases to act out:

  • I won the race! I am the best!
  • I am tired, frightened, and cold.
  • I can't wait to open my birthday gifts!
  • I feel warm, relaxed, and sleepy . . .
  • I am awestruck, like a miracle is taking place.
  • I am so angry at my brother (or sister) that I could scream!
Make a series of quick sketches using black markers on newsprint paper. Pick one sketch/pose to make again, this time using sculpture wire and a wood block base.

 

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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