Born in New Brunswick, Canada, Edward Mitchell Bannister moved to New England in the 1840s, becoming an active and successful participant in the region’s artistic life, despite the adversity of racism. Of this, he once stated, “I have been sustained by an inborn love for art and accomplished all I have undertaken through the severest struggles which, while severe enough for white men, have been enhanced tenfold in my case.” His monumental painting Under the Oaks (location unknown) received first prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. He later described the moment when the prize committee discovered it awarded top honors to a black man, writing, “An explosion could not have made a more marked impression.” Deeply influenced by the French Barbizon School, Bannister painted with a soft, loose touch, using a limited palette of greens, browns, and greys. He took the landscape of his adopted home of Rhode Island as his subject matter and strove to recreate the subtle effects of light and atmosphere found in nature.
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- Titles The Groundskeeper (Alternate)
- Artist Edward M. Bannister, American, born Canada, 1828 - 1901
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 20 × 30 in. (50.8 × 76.2 cm) frame: 28 1/4 × 38 × 3 1/2 in. (71.8 × 96.5 × 8.9 cm)
- Credit Line Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with additional funds given in honor of Norman B. Davis, Jr., AFI.11.2016
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Inscription Verso, left stretcher bar, center, paper label: Size 20 X 30 / SOLD BY FROST & ADAMS / Nos. 33 and 35 Cornill, Boston
- Provenance Dealer Frost & Adams, Boston [see note 1]. Private collection, Rhode Island; auctioned at John McInnis Auctioneers, Amesbury, Massachusetts, April 15, 2015, lot 1000, as “The Groundskeeper”; purchased by dealer Roger King Fine Art, Newport, Rhode Island; dealer Brock & Co., Concord, Massachusetts; purchased by the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, April 21, 2016
1. Label on verso.