Henry Ossawa Tanner, perhaps the most accomplished African American artist of the late nineteenth century, studied with Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia. In 1891 he left for Europe, settling in Paris, where he would remain for much of his career. About 1908 Tanner became interested in architectural subjects rendered in a broad and Impressionistic manner, as well as in employing a palette of blue and purple tonalities. All these characteristics are demonstrated in his execution of The Arch, in which the famous Arc de Triomphe is shown at night, brilliantly illuminated and rising above a crowd gathered at the Place d'Etoile. A rare contemporary French subject in Tanner's oeuvre of predominantly biblical and figural works, The Arch may have related to his turbulent feelings as an American expatriate on the outbreak of World War I.