Bannister’s paintings span a variety of genres, including rural and urban landscapes, seascapes, portraits, mythological and biblical scenes, and still lifes. In this representation of a large bouquet of flowers, his loose brushwork and moderate use of bright colours against darker foliage creates a dynamic, impressionistic display. The artist’s technical proficiency and exploration of different genres and styles demonstrates his drive to overcome the social barriers that prevented him from receiving formal artistic training. He declared that “whatever may be my success as an artist is due more to inherited potential than to instruction.” During his years in Providence, as he gained confidence in the direction of his art and established his reputation, Bannister focused increasingly on recording the coastlines and landscape of Rhode Island.
Artist and Abolitionist
Edward Mitchell Bannister, Untitled (floral still life), n.d.
Ooil on canvas, 75.8 x 63.5 cm, Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, Gift of H. Alan and Melvin Frank (1983.95.152).