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The Two Disciples at the Tomb
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More about The Two Disciples at the Tomb

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Tanner painted this piece at the height of his career, away from the racism and prejudice of America and firmly planted in French soil.

At this stage of his life, his best and most renowned works were of religious subjects in very personable, human settings. The Two Disciples is not one of the heroes of the Old Testament, or of the Messiah himself. Rather, it depicts two of the Twelve Apostles: Peter and John.

The oldest and youngest of the Twelve have great importance in Catholic tradition. The bearded man, Peter, is regarded as the head honcho of the group, the one for whom the cock crowed three times, and the first Pope of the Catholic Church. At this point in time he was, despite his age, unsure of his responsibilities and quick to anger, eventually growing into his leadership once Jesus left the earthly plane.

The youth in front of him is the youngest of the disciples, John, the author of the Fourth Gospel and allegedly the Book of Revelation. John, along with his older brother James, were given the nickname Boanerges, Greek for “sons of thunder,” for their zealousness. Definitely one of the most badass nicknames Jesus ever gave a person.

Out of all the paintings in Tanner’s career, this one stands as his most somber, dramatic, and reflective. It is suggested that his bold brushwork here reflects the Art Nouveau and Expressionist styles that were emerging at this time. Two Disciples was the piece that finally gave him the recognition he deserved in the United States: among 350 other artworks, this painting won him the Harris Silver Medal in 1906. Shortly after, the Art Institute of Chicago acquired the painting, where it now resides. Tanner eventually made another painting of the same subject nineteen years later.

Out of all the artists that have their work hung on the walls of the White House, Tanner reserves the honor of being the only African-American among them, just like Obama amongst the forty-five presidents the United States has gone through.

 

Sources

Sources

  1. “ Artwork and Artist Information: The Two Disciples at the Tomb by Henry Ossawa Tanner.” n.d. Artic.edu. The Art Institute of Chicago. Accessed January 23, 2019. https://www.artic.edu/assets/324bc073-500c-d391-0010-50660c994651.
  2. Chadwick, Henry. 2017. “St. John the Apostle.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. August 29, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-the-Apostle.
  3. O'Connor, Daniel William. 2018. “St. Peter the Apostle.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. November 27, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Peter-the-Apostle.
  4. “The Two Disciples at the Tomb.” n.d. Art Access: Rococo to Realist Art | The Art Institute of Chicago. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries. Accessed January 23, 2019. http://archive.artic.edu/africanamerican/two-disciples/.
  5. “The Two Disciples at the Tomb.” n.d. The Art Institute of Chicago. Accessed January 23, 2019. https://www.artic.edu/artworks/87643/the-two-disciples-at-the-tomb.