Étaples and the Canche River at Dusk

Henry Ossawa Tanner, American, 1859 - 1937

Share

See Previous Article See next Article

about 1918

Oil on paperboard

Overall: 10 3/4 × 13 7/8 in. (27.3 × 35.2 cm)

Frame: 18 1/8 × 22 1/4 in. (46 × 56.5 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Katharine T. and Merrill G. Beede 1929 Fund, the Miriam H. and S. Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund, and through gifts from Henry B. Williams; Mrs. Alice Cox, Class of 1939hW; Col. Joseph W. A. Whitehorne II; the Dartmouth Players; and Desmond E. Canavan, by exchange

2014.76

Geography

Place Made: United States, North America

Period

20th century

Object Name

Painting

Research Area

Painting

On view

Inscriptions

Signed, lower left: H. O. TANNER; two old printed labels on frame reverse, transferred from earlier frame: [label 1] FROM GEORGE DAVIDSON, / Carver, Gilder, Artists’ Colourman, / and Dealer in Fine Arts. / PAINTINGS CLEANED AND RESTORED / 123 SAUCHIEHALL STREET, GLASGOW; [label 2, beige letters within blue oval] MANUFACTURED / BY / Geo. Styles [in cursive]/ PHONE / B2628 / 31 ROWE ST. SYD[NEY (a paper scrape obscures the last three letters)]

Label

Often considered the first African American painter to achieve international renown, Henry Ossawa Tanner honed his artistic skills through study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and, beginning in 1891, at the Académie Julian in Paris. He flourished under the stimulation of Paris’s international art circles and appreciated the comparatively greater degree of racial tolerance he experienced in France. With the exception of wide ranging travels and brief trips back to the United States, Tanner remained in France for the rest of his life, maintaining residences in Paris and the hamlet of Trépied, near the fishing port of Étaples.

By the time he painted Étaples and the Canche River at Dusk around 1918, Tanner had already garnered fame for his Orientalist and biblical paintings—many of them nocturnes. His attraction to the dreamy, atmospheric effects of nighttime subjects carried over into his landscapes, as seen in this twilight image of Étaples. Even more so than his other works from this period, this composition reveals Tanner’s modernist sensibilities through its high horizon, tipped perspective, and strong diagonals. He counterbalanced this firm underlying structure with sinuous swaths of paint that suggest the water’s force as it escapes the embankment and carves a meandering path through the flats by the shore. Despite the secular subject, the painting evokes a sense of quiet awe and introspection—qualities associated with Tanner’s most resonant, timeless works.

From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art

|

This composition reveals Henry Tanner’s modernist sensibilities through its high horizon, tipped perspective, and strong diagonals. He counterbalanced this firm underlying geometric structure with sinuous swaths of paint that suggest water’s uncontrollable force as it breaks through the embankment and carves a meandering path through the flats by the shore. Tanner’s beautiful rendering deemphasizes water’s destructive capabilities.

Often considered the first African American painter to achieve international renown, Tanner studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and, beginning in 1891, at the Académie Julian in Paris. Tanner appreciated the comparatively greater degree of racial tolerance he experienced in France and chose to live there permanently.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

AAAS 88.19, Contemporary African-American Artists, Michael Chaney, Summer 2021

SART 31/SART 72, Painting II/III, Jen Caine, Winter 2022

Studio Art 31.01/72.01, Painting II/III, Jen Caine, Winter 2023

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-September 12, 2021.

Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 11, 2015.

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, January 28–April 15, 2012; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH, May 26–September 9, 2012; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, October 21, 2012–January 13, 2013.

Publication History

Anna O. Marley, ed., Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2012, 95, 253 (color illus.), as Untitled (Dusk Scene of a Flooded River and Nearby Town).

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 141, ill. plate no. 72.

Published References

Lesage, Jean-Claude, “Tanner, The Pillar of Trépied,” in Anna O. Marley, ed., Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit (above, p. 95).

Provenance

The artist, Paris, France, about 1918; Private Collection, England, date unknown; acquired in Sydney, Australia, date unknown; Swann Galleries [auction house], “African American Fine Art,” New York, New York, October 8, 2009, lot 3; sold to Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, New York; sold to present collection, 2014.

This record is part of an active database that includes information from historic documentation that may not have been recently reviewed. Information may be inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledge some language and imagery may be offensive, violent, or discriminatory. These records reflect the institution’s history or the views of artists or scholars, past and present. Our collections research is ongoing.

We welcome questions, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Please contact us at: Hood.Collections@dartmouth.edu