Robert Scott Duncanson’s East Coast Debut

Robert Scott Duncanson was the first African-American landscape painter to achieve international recognition. The son of a biracial tradesman from Virginia, and the grandson of a freed slave, Duncanson apprenticed in his youth to his family’s housepainting and carpentry business in Canada. He began his artistic career by copying popular prints. Duncanson moved to Cincinnati in the 1840s, where he was inspired by the Hudson River school and in particular, its founder, Thomas Cole.

Robert Scott Duncanson, Untitled (Landscape), oil on board, circa 1860-65. Sold on February 27, 2011 for $45,600.

On May 1st, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY opened Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedmen’s Sons, the first show of Duncanson’s work in several years, and the first on the East Coast. Curated by Joseph D. Ketner, the Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston and author of The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson 1821-1872, the show includes many new works discovered since his book’s publication 15 years ago, including Untitled (Landscape), circa 1860-65, sold at Swann Galleries on February 17, 2011 for $45,600.

Robert Scott Duncanson, Untitled (Landscape), oil on canvas, late 1850s. Sold October 6, 2011 for $120,000.