Skip to Content

Pennsylvania Artists

Showing 10 of 33


Mary (La Sainte-Marie)

19th Century
34 1/8 x 42 5/8 in. (86.7 x 108.3 cm)

Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, (1859–1937)

Object Type: PAINTINGS
Creation Place: North America
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Purchased with funds provided by Regina and Ragan Henry
Accession Number: 84-P-298
Gallery Label:

In this unconventional rendering of the Virgin Mary with the Christ child, Mary appears melancholy and lost in thought. The infant is almost completely covered by a shroud-like cloth, suggesting a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death. Tanner paid careful attention to details studied first-hand in Jerusalem, where he first traveled in 1898. Tanner’s style is academic and is distinctive for his use of luminous lighting. The model for Mary was newlywed Tanner’s Swedish-American wife. Tanner studied with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the 1880s before traveling to and eventually settling in Paris, where, from 1894 on, his work appeared in the annual, juried Salon. Mary is in its original tabernacle frame with its Salon entry number, 1252, and another label noting Tanner’s previous Salon medal for an earlier painting. While it was common for American artists to travel to Paris to study art and even settle in that art-making capital, Tanner attributed his choice to remain there to the racism he encountered in the United States as an artist of mixed African-, European-, and Native-American ancestry and his ability to be judged simply by his talent in France.
Current Location: Art Museum : 19 C Gallery


- Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, Ed. Anna O. Marley, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Berkely: University of California Press, 2012.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Dewey F. Mosby, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, New Yor: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991.

Henry Ossawa Tanner's "La Sainte-Marie", Daniel Burke, FSC, Smithsonian Studies in American Art, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring, 1988), pp. 64-73.


- Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, traveling exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2012-2013. Exhibition Itinerary: PAFA (January 27 - April 15, 2012); Cincinnati Art Museum (May 27 - September 9, 2012); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (October 14, 2012 - January 6, 2013).

- Henry Ossawa Tanner, traveling exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1991-1992. Exhibition Intinerary: PMA (January 20 - April 14, 1991); Detroit Institute of Arts (May 12 - August 4, 1991); High Museum of Art, Atlanta (September 17 - November 24, 1991); The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum (December 14, 1991 - March 1, 1992).

- Christmas Cards: Picture Poems on the Nativity, La Salle University Art Museum, Winter 1991.

- The African-American Image in Art, Curated by Caroline Wistar, La Salle University Art Museum, February, 1990.

- Portland, Oregon, Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, June 1 - October 15, 1905, #104

- Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Third Annual Exhibition, September 20 - October 3, 1902, #139

- Paris, Salon of 1900, #1252

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

Your current search criteria is: Portfolio is "Pennsylvania Artists" and [Objects]Century is "19th Century".

View current selection of records as: