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Mother of Henry O. Tanner

n.d. Henry Ossawa Tanner Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1859 Died: Paris, France 1937 oil on plywood 13 x 9 1/4 in. (33.0 x 23.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Dr. Nicholas Zervas 1983.95.213 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 10B

Luce Center Label

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s mother, Sarah Elizabeth Miller, was one of eleven children born to a slave who sent her children to freedom by the Underground Railroad. Members of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society divided the children into various families, sending Sarah to Pittsburgh. In this portrait, Tanner captured the wisdom and experience of a woman who had endured much in her life, rising from slavery to raise well-educated and successful children. Tanner kept this portrait in his personal collection and spoke affectionately of it in letters to his family.


Portrait female - Tanner, - bust


paint - oil

wood - plywood