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The Arch

Henry Ossawa Tanner

American Art

In this dramatic nocturnal scene, Henry Ossawa Tanner recorded the Celebration of the Dead, held on July 13, 1919, in Paris to honor those who died defending France during World War I. Here, the crowd is rendered as a largely anonymous mass; the figures converge before a brilliantly illuminated cenotaph, or empty tomb, temporarily erected behind the Arc de Triomphe. As in many of Tanner’s religious nocturnes, the cool cerulean palette and muted tonalities evoke a solemn, even spiritual, mood.

Paris was a familiar subject for Tanner, an African American expatriate artist of international renown who resided in the French capital and in Brittany for most of his adult life. During these decades abroad, Tanner experienced racial prejudice to a lesser degree than he had in the United States and enjoyed greater artistic freedom and opportunity.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1919
DIMENSIONS 39 1/4 x 38 3/16 in. (99.7 x 97 cm) Frame: 42 7/8 x 42 x 2 5/8 in. (108.9 x 106.7 x 6.7 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Incised lower left: "H.O. TANNER"
SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "H.O. TANNER / PARIS July 13 191[9]"
CREDIT LINE Gift of Alfred W. Jenkins
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Henry Ossawa Tanner (American, 1859–1937). The Arch, 1919. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 38 3/16 in. (99.7 x 97 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Alfred W. Jenkins, 32.10 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 32.10_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 32.10_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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