Lions in the Desert
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1859
Died: Paris, France 1937
oil on canvas mounted on plywood
15 1/2 x 29 3/8 in. (39.5 x 74.5 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins
Henry Ossawa Tanner grew up in a religious home and his family took special pride in the history of the biblical Hamatic races of African origin (Mosby, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1991). It is possible that he regarded the lion as a symbol of his African heritage. Tanner learned to draw lions from trips to the zoo in Philadelphia, where he grew up and attended art school. While in Paris in 1891, he sketched them at the Jardin des Plantes and took an animal anatomy course at the natural history museum. Tanner painted Lions in the Desert during one of his visits to the Middle East, which he described as a barren landscape. He did not see actual lions there, but later added them to the painting in his studio.
This object is currently on view at the Museum's Renwick Gallery.
For more information about this work visit the Luce Foundation Center.
Animal - lion
Landscape - desert
paint - oil
fabric - canvas
wood - plywood
About Henry Ossawa Tanner
Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1859 Died: Paris, France 1937