Henry Ossawa Tanner painted The Thankful Poor in 1894. As a nineteenth-century depiction of African-American subjects painted by an African-American artist, it’s an unusual work.
In the United States, as in many places, becoming an artist in the nineteenth century required much more than talent. Prestige in the art world generally required fairly traditional training, and a network of patrons and other artists. While Tanner was by no means the first African American artist, he was one of the first to manage both.
Thomas Eakins’ tutelage helped—Tanner’s technical knowledge served him well, and gained him patrons. But even more than that, Tanner succeeded in navigating the sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly racist American art world—although it eventually drove him to seek refuge in Paris.
Because of his patrons, and his relative prestige, Tanner was able to have a little more creative control over his own work—and still earn enough money to continue. Here, he chooses to depict a quiet and compelling moment of prayer between an old man and a young man.
Manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in New Haven, Connecticut for the Canadian Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, a group of trappers, hunters and other locals of the West coast of Canada armed for the purpose of fighting a possible Japanese invasion. All serial numbers are in the 1300000 range. .30-30 Winchester centerfire, 6 rounds tubular magazine. These rifles were properties of the Canadian government and as such bear the broad arrow. A lot of them were destroyed some time after WW2 because of their high maintenance cost.