The Savior

Media - 1983.95.191 - SAAM-1983.95.191_1 - 82761
Copied Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Savior, ca. 1900-1905, oil on canvas mounted to plywood, 29 1821 34 in. (73.955.3 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins, 1983.95.191
Free to use

Artwork Details

The Savior
ca. 1900-1905
29 1821 34 in. (73.955.3 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Robbins
Mediums Description
oil on canvas mounted to plywood
  • Portrait
  • Religion — New Testament — Christ
  • Portrait male — Christ
Object Number

Artwork Description

The story of Christ’s crucifixion occupied Henry Ossawa Tanner’s mind throughout his career. The Savior shows Jesus meditating as he waits for his crown of thorns and purple robe, in which he would be mocked as the “King of the Jews.” Tanner portrayed him as a real person in contemplation and prayer rather than as an idealized figure. But the yellow color in his face and outlining his profile is like a glowing light that suggests Christ’s uniqueness as a spiritual being, able to transcend flesh and blood.