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Robert Scott Duncanson (1821 - 1872)

Lot 5: Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872)


May 18, 2004
New York, NY, US

More About this Item


signed and dated 'Duncanson./1870' (lower left)
oil on canvas
29 3/4 x 50 in. (75.6 x 127 cm.)

Artist or Maker

Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872)


The artist.
Private collection.
Corporate collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Episcopal Dioceses of Pennsylvania, until 1986.
Private collection, Pennsylvania.


Joseph D. Ketner writes of the present work: "The serene, wilderness Landscape is one in a series of ambitious works that Robert Duncanson created in his Cincinnati studio in the late phase of his storied career. The painting exemplifies the artist's vision of the picturesque beauty of the North American landscape. He created the work following his successful tour of Europe where the London Art Journal pronounced the African-American a 'master' landscape artist. Over thirty years of arduous personal and artistic toil Duncanson achieved the reputation as one of the premier landscape painters working in the United States during the mid-nineteenth century."

Ketner goes on to write that in Landscape "the complexities of [Duncanson's] technique and composition are a marvelous series of contrasts. The soft light from the calm sky and the serene, shimmering surface of the river cast a beatific glow across the landscape that precariously opens in the foreground and spills into the lap of the viewer. The majestically rugged crown of the mountainous middle ground is safely nestled in a collar of fully foliated trees and green grass. Duncanson broadly brushes the foreground tree in a free and poetic manner, while the middle distance is rendered in the refined Hudson River School style that Duncanson learned from Thomas Cole. The encamped men around the gently smoking fire serve Duncanson as a metaphor for nature as a pastoral, picturesque environment receptive to the presence of people."

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