I Will Preach With My Brush


Henry Tanner, by Thomas Eakins, 1900

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

Take a moment to share Christ’s life as imagined and painted by Henry Ossawa Tanner.

Mr. Tanner was born in 1859, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The son of an Episcopal minister and a schoolteacher, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then moved to Paris where he became the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim.

Nicodemus Visiting Jesus, 1899

“Nicodemus Visiting Jesus” is one of his most famous works, winning the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ Lippincott Prize in 1900.

After a trip to Palestine in 1897 he was inspired to experience the people, culture, architecture, and light of the Holy Land. Over time, the subjects of his paintings shifted from landscapes and scenes from everyday life to religious narratives.

It’s said that Bishop Tanner desired that his son become a minister, to which Henry supposedly replied, “No, father, you preach from the pulpit and I will preach with my brush.” The photos below are selected paintings that represent Mr. Tanner’s pictorial sermons.

Experience the Savior’s life from the perspective an artist’s life work. Clicking on an image will reveal greater detail.

Early Days

Jesus’ Ministry

Crucifixion and Resurrection