One artist couldn’t go to his own opening because his mother was black. One sold his paintings door-to-door for food. Another was inspired by a newspaper article that said black folks couldn’t paint. A fourth, born into affluence, ended his career in France, where he was seen as an artist, not a black man.

Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872), Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), Charles Ethan Porter (1847-1923) and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) are painters whose names are familiar to art historians and collectors. They will be better known to students and the community after Hearne Fine Art opens the exhibit “Pioneers of the Paint: Masters of the 19th Century” Friday at the gallery at 1001 Wright Ave.