Narrative Art: Religious

Article excerpt

Henry O. Tanner, (United States, 1859-1937), Daniel in the Lions' Den, c. 1907-18, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 41 1/8 x 49 7/8" (104.5 x 126.8 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection, 22.63.

Daniel leans against the side of the lions' den surrounded by several of the large beasts. Despite the apparent danger, the painting's mood is one of quiet serenity. In Tanner's typical style, this painting uses color and light to evoke the essence of the story.

Henry Tanner was one of the most important African American artists of his time. A minister's son, he traveled to Palestine and the Middle East, devoting much of his career to painting religious subjects, Wary of racial prejudice in the United States, he spent much of his life in France. The story of Daniel, unjustly imprisoned by the Persian king, was a fitting subject for Tanner, who used dramatic lighting and shimmering color. Here those elements combine to reveal Daniel's calm, spiritual strength in the face of danger, and the glowing light from above, which perhaps stands for divine protection.

?? What is happening in the painting? Do the lions seem very interested in the man? Does he seem frightened? Do the colors in the painting provide any clues about the painting's story? Make up your own story in which someone is in danger. What colors would you use to paint your story?

GalleryCard submitted by Mary Lenihan, Assistant Museum Educator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


December 1999

Andrea Mantegna (Italian, about 1431-1506), The Adoration of the Magi, about 1500, distemper on linen, 19 1/8 x 25 7/8" (48. …