Some African-American artists attempted to escape the classical tradition into which they were confined and painted themes closer to their heritage and existence. Some fine portraits of black freedmen were painted by talented but obscure black artists in the rural South during the period from 1870 through the early part of the twentieth century. Henry Ossawa Tanner’s paintings in the 1880s of poor blacks, for example, belong to this little-known school of African-American art. His work The Thankful Poor (1894) is one such painting. The location of the painting was unknown for many years; it was rediscovered in 1970 and then acquired by a private collector.
Artist Henry Ossawa Tanner created works in the late-nineteenth century portraying the lives of poor black people. His paintings were lost for many years until they were rediscovered in 1970.