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Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872), Ohio River Valley Landscape

Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872), Ohio River Valley Landscape

  • $ 375,000.00

Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872)

Ohio River Valley Landscape

Oil on canvas, unsigned

Canvas size 28 1/2 x 52 1/8"

Framed size: 38” x 61 ½"

Provenance: Descended in the Williams family of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Exhibition: Cincinnati Museum of Art, 1972.

Publication: James Dallas Parks. Robert S. Duncanson: 19th c. Black Romantic Painter. Washington, DC.:

Associated Publishers, 1908.


Robert Seldon Duncanson was a premier American landscape painter also known in Canada, England, and Scotland for his artistic talent. An African-American born into a family of house painters and carpenters, Duncanson had loftier goals and taught himself to paint still lifes and portraits, moving on to landscapes, for which he is best known, in the late 1840s.

Duncanson created the majority of his Ohio River Valley landscape paintings in the 1850s, a period when he was also collaborating with the African-American photographer and abolitionist, James Presley Ball (1825-1904). These two artists exhibited their works together at Ball's Cincinnati studio and also mentored younger artists, many of whom had immigrated to Cincinnati in order to learn more about the art trade. He worked within the regional landscape tradition pioneered a generation earlier by John James Audubon (1785-1851) and Joseph Mason (1802-1842), making excursions in local rivers for inspiration and to gather precise records of topography, flora and fauna. Duncanson's travels were by necessity confined to emancipated regions, specifically Ohio and Michigan. His works are typically monumental in scale and spiritual in tone, as seen in the canvas here.

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