EDWARD M. BANNISTER (1828 - 1901) Untitled (Sheep and Farm Buildings).
Oil on canvas, circa 1900. 125x178 mm; 5x7 inches. Initialed in oil, lower left.
Provenance: private collection.
Born and raised in Canada, where the British had abolished slavery, Edward Bannister was able to demonstrate and develop his talent at a young age. Working as a seaman, the young man travelled the Northeastern coast until he found work in the arts hand-coloring daguerreotypes in New York. In the early 1850s, Bannister established himself as a young regionalist painter in Boston, one of its first African-American artists. He studied at the Lowell Institute, and received his first commission in 1855. In 1871, Bannister and his wife moved to Providence, R.I. where he was active as a professional artist, and respected in the artistic community. Bannister helped found the Providence Art Club, which became the model for the Rhode Island School of Design. In his Barbizon-like landscapes, he produced a poetic view of tranquil lands with people and animals in harmony. According to John Nelson Arnold, a fellow artist and friend, Bannister "looked at nature with a poet's feeling. Skies, rocks, fields were all absorbed and distilled through his soul and projected upon the canvas with a virile force and a poetic beauty." His paintings won awards, including the prestigious bronze (first) prize at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and a devoted group of local collectors. Sixteen of his works are now in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Lewis, p. 38.