Clark Atlanta University loans historic painting to new National Museum of African American History and Culture

Clark Atlanta University has loaned a historically significant piece of artwork to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Disciples Healing the Sick (c. 1930) -- created by world-renowned artist. Henry O. Tanner (1857-1931) -- will be on loan to the museum for five years.

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Tanner, considered one of the most successful black artists in American history, was a former art professor at CAU’s parent institution Clark College. The painting was a gift to Atlanta University by the Harmon Foundation in 1967 and has been on display in the Rhines Family Foundation Visual Art and American Experience Room.

The University sent the oil on cardboard painting to the Smithsonian in Sept. 2015. The painting is the largest fully realized work by Tanner created during the latter portion of his life using a technique found in only one other piece of his work titled Good Shepherd.

Disciples Healing the Sick is a rare work that has very limited exhibition history. The Smithsonian American Art Museum also houses another Tanner painting (He Healed the Sick) believed to be a less detailed and less finished version of the CAU owned painting. Tanner is said to have created the paintings after recovering from a serious illness reflecting the deeply personal connection he had with the works of art.

“This rare Tanner demonstrates the contribution he made to the development of American art. I am glad that so many people will get the opportunity to see it,” said Maurita N. Poole, Ph.D., director of the CAU Art Museum in a statement.

Tanner was born in Pittsburgh six years before the end of the Civil War. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts but moved to France where he would live out his remaining years and become one the first American artists of any race to achieve an international reputation in the art world.

At NMAAHC, Tanner joins CAU alumnus Horace Henry (CC '71) whose One Day in January -- a collection of pictures of the first memorial service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- will also be on display.