Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901)

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Bannister, Driving Home the Cows

Driving Home the Cows

Edward Mitchell Bannister was an African American painter of landscapes and pastoral subjects. Bannister was greatly influenced by the Barbizon School of painting in France. Bannister was born in New Brunswick, Canada but spent much of his life in New England.

Bannister, Harvest, 1884

Harvest, 1884

In 1848 Bannister moved to Boston where he made a living as a barber. Bannister also sang as a member of the Crispus Attucks Choir and the Histrionics Club. Bannister’s social involvement earned him a relatively high position New England Society. Bannister’s wife Christiana Carteaux, owned and managed the most elite beauty parlors in Boston. Bannister’s wife helped support his art career and he became one of the few African Americans to attend Lowell Institute.

Bannister, Madame Cristiana Carteaux Bannister

Madame Cristiana Carteaux Bannister

Bannister eventually moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he spent the majority of his life, exhibiting throughout the coastal region. Bannister was rewarded for his painting “Under the Oaks” at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial with a bronze medal. Bannister had a difficult career, as racial discrimination made it hard to gain public exposure. Since Bannister’s death, Rhode Island has come to recognize him as an important historical figure.

Bannister, Approaching Storm, 1886

Approaching Storm, 1886

Bannister is known for his idealistic landscapes as well as a strong body of portraits, biblical and mythological paintings. Bannister was well versed in literature and art history, which enabled him to weave iconic imagery into his paintings.

Bannister, Untitled (Full moon over harbor)

Untitled (Full moon over harbor)

Though many of Bannister’s paintings have been lost, his work is highly valued by prestigious collections and museums. Bannister is an important African American artist and a historical figure in New England. Do you think you own a painting by Edward Mitchell Bannister? Contact us. We are the Edward Mitchell Bannister experts.