washington

Washington

The sources of Henry Tanner’s art are often not obvious, but they are permeating—pre-Raphaelitism, a hard factual strain developed under Eakins, an early predilection for genre, begun in Philadelphia and intensified in the studio of Benjamin-Constant, a mystical and Symbolist propensity that tells of the influence of Ryder, Redon and Whistler, a passionate attachment to Rembrandt. Yet for all this absorption, Henry Tanner cannot be dismissed as a turn of the century pasticheur. Indeed, several of his works equal the achievements of many of the masters I have mentioned and, in the case of Benjamin-Constant at least, unquestionably surpasses them.

For the major portion of his career, Tanner was in the awkward position of having been displaced by modernist art, as was often the lot of the Symbolist artist in the early 20th century—think of Maurice Denis, for example. The inevitable happened.

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