Edward Bannister: Boston Street Scene (1898-99)

Edward Mitchell Bannister: Boston Street Scene (Boston Common), 1898-99, oil on panel, H: 8 x W: 5 1/2 in. (20.32 x 13.97 cm), Walters Art Museum, Boston, Mass.

Who Is Edward Mitchell Bannister?

Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828 –1901) was a Black CanadianAmerican Tonalist painter. Like other Tonalists, his style and predominantly pastoral subject matter were drawn from his admiration for Millet and the French Barbizon School.

In fact, Bannister’s work often reflects the composition, mood, and influences of French Barbizon painters including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, and Charles-François Daubigny.

Although primarily known for his idealised landscapes and seascapes, Bannister also executed portraits, biblical and mythological scenes, and genre scenes. An intellectual autodidact, his tastes in literature were typical of an educated Victorian painter, including Spenser, Virgil, Ruskin and Tennyson, from whose works much of his iconography can be traced. (2)

Walter’s Art Museum explains,

“Bannister, the son of a black immigrant from Barbados and his Scottish-Canadian wife, was born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Initially a seaman, he settled in Boston, where he eked out a living as a hairdresser and as a hand-tinter of photographs. With the encouragement of his wife, he turned to painting and for a while shared a studio with Edwin Lord Weeks. His atmospheric landscapes found a ready market, especially in Boston.”(1)

Edward Mitchell Bannister_Boston Street Scene (Boston Common)
Edward Mitchell Bannister: Boston Street Scene (Boston Common), 1898-99, oil on panel, H: 8 x W: 5 1/2 in. (20.32 x 13.97 cm), Walters Art Museum, Boston, Mass. (detail)

…Bannister painted landscapes with muted colors that recalled the works of the French Barbizon school so popular among New England collectors during the second half of the 19th century. However, in one of his last works, which he painted during a stay in Boston in the late 1890s, Bannister adopted a much more vivid palette.

At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, Bannister received a first-place medal. He was the first African-American artist to win a national award, but the judges were surprised by his ethnic background. Bannister resided in Providence, Rhode Island, where he became one of the seven founding members of the Providence Art Club, an institution that still flourishes today. (1)

Click for Enlarged Image:


Image Credit

Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore, MD


  1. The Walters Art Museum, Edward Mitchell Bannister: Boston Street Scene (Boston Common), https://art.thewalters.org/detail/4695/boston-street-scene-boston-common/ (accessed 23 Oct 2018).                                                                                      
  2. Wikipedia contributors, “Edward Mitchell Bannister,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Edward_Mitchell_Bannister&oldid=859819329 (accessed October 23, 2018).


Thanks for Reading! 🙂

The End

3 Comments Add yours

  1. A superlative blog of beauty, art and wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for visiting, lancesheridan! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are sincerely welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s