Eye Candy for Today: Henry Tanner’s Flight Into Egypt

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner (details)

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Oil on canvas, roughly 29 x 26 inches (74 x 66 cm). Link is to a reasonably large file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Metropolitian Museum of Art

As he did in many of his biblically themed canvasses, Tanner brings to bear his uncanny touch with light and shadow to dramatize this scene from the story of the flight of the Holy Family from the assassins of King Herod.

The Metropolitan Museum’s website points out that the story was a favorite of Tanner’s, who related it to the flight of African Americans from persecution in the South. Tanner himself fled the systematic prejudice he encountered as an African American painter, emigrating to France where he found greater acceptance and respect.

There is so much to admire in this piece — the carefully crafted value statement, the shadows playing against the wall, the striking glow of light from the lantern, the repeated forms of the arches and large shadow form, and the wonderfully tactile nature of the paint surface and brush marks, in particular as they define the hard and soft edges of the forms.

 
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