Over the course of its two year existence – 1973 to 1975 – seven stamps were added to the American Arts series.
Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African American painter to gain international fame. Tanner explored mosques and biblical sites in Palestine, blending with the population and learning their character. Tanner’s subsequent work had an air of spirituality and mystique. “The Banjo Lesson,” which portrays an elderly black man teaching a young boy to play the banjo, is Tanner’s most famous work. His work, “Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City,” is displayed in the Green Room at the White House. It’s the first painting by an African-American artist to be acquired for the White House’s permanent collection.
U.S. #1554 shows Paul Laurence Dunbar, an American writer and poet. Dunbar was the son of an escaped slave. His writing greatly contributed to a more sensitive understanding of African Americans.
This stamp shows David W. Griffith, a pioneer of the silver screen. He refined movie techniques like close-ups and fade-outs, and discovered the talents of stars such as Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford.