Henry Ossawa Tanner's Annunciation by Mary Elizabeth Podles

A Thousand Words

Henry Ossawa Tanner's Annunciation

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

This is no conventional Annunciation, with a winged, white-nightied angel and richly robed, serene Madonna. Instead, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937) gives us a frowning, barefoot Middle Eastern teenager and a shaft of brilliant light, a startling innovation but an image no less profound than any traditional version of the same subject. A most unusual composition, it was brought about by an extraordinary confluence of events and persons.

The Artist

Of central interest is the painter, Henry O . . .