Arts Everyday Living: African-American Artists-Edward Mitchell Bannister, Master of Landscapes

Edward Mitchell Bannister, Approaching Storm, 1886, oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 60 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Gift of G. William Miller, 1983.

Title: Approaching Storm*

Artist: Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901)

Sometimes nature turns against us, quickly and unpredictably. The usually calm, stately trees–now starting to move ominously back and forth–can suddenly threaten travelers, like the lone figure of the man, bracing himself against the unexpected gale. Desperately holding onto his hat, along with his axe, as he struggles to stay anchored to the narrow path. Hopefully his destination is not too far from home, where he can safely shelter from the impending storm that is likely to descend. Drenching him in an onslaught of non-stop rain, driven by the rising wind.

Approaching Storm was created by Edward Mitchell Bannister, one of the country’s first African American artists. Born and raised in Canada, he lived in two major New England cities, first Boston, and then Providence, Rhode Island where he spent most of his career. His first jobs ranged from ship worker to barber to photographer.

In spite of racism, Bannister did manage to get an art education, eventually winning awards and recognition for his works particularly his landscapes, displayed today in museums like the Smithsonian Museum of American Art which holds a sizable collection. Demonstrating his ability to capture the changing moods of the environment he so loved. Painted with a palette of rich, earth tones and thickly applied brushstrokes, reminding us of the impressionist technique, although he  was  not a follower of their school.

*Make certain to click on image to enlarge it.




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This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions), Smithsonian.


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