Whoever said there isn’t anything good on eBay anymore wasn’t watching today. A small painting by Edward Mitchell Bannister went well above the $85 starting bid and fetched $2221.89. The least expensive auction record I can locate for Bannister is $900, however, there is no accompanying photo. Most of his works are in the five-digit category. The eBay offering seems to be a sketch but has a certain charm nonetheless.
Bannister (1828 –1901) was an African American painter whose tonalism and predominantly pastoral subject matter owed much to his admiration for Millet and the French Barbizon School.
Bannister was born in St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada and moved to New England in the late 1840s. Until the 1970s, Bannister was largely forgotten, perhaps due to racial prejudice. A century earlier, however, he won a Bronze medal at the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition for his painting “Under the Oaks.” You may assume there was less awareness of race in 1976, however on finding out Bannister’s race, judges initially wanted to reconsider the award. The white competitors, however, upheld the decision and Bannister was awarded the bronze medal. The location of the painting has not been known since the turn of the century.
In 1978, Rhode Island College dedicated its Art Gallery in Bannister’s name with the exhibition: “Four From Providence ~ Alston, Bannister, Jennings & Prophet”.
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