48 of 60

Henry Ossawa Tanner
Mary
about 1914
oil
45 1/2 x 34 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Dorothy L. McGuire



Alone among looming shadows in her chamber, Mary senses the arrival of the angel who will announce that she will bear the Son of God. Atmospheric blue and violet hues intensify this mysterious, sacred moment, while golden candlelight suggests a divine presence. With uncanny insight, Tanner captures both fragile humanity and revelation's radiant glow. To this deeply religious artist, Mary symbolized faith and fortitude. These qualities were especially significant in 1914 for war-threatened France, where Tanner had emigrated in 1891 to escape racism in the United States.