America’s Forgotten Landscape Painter: Robert S. Duncanson

Beloved by 19th-century audiences around the world, the African-American artist fell into obscurity, only to be celebrated as a genius more than a century later

(Swedish Royal Collection, Stockholm / Wikimedia Commons)

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What is clear is that Duncanson envisioned a life without limits, a life beyond the role of the slave or laborer into which African-Americans had been cast. He instead cast himself as an artist, propelling himself into the higher echelons of society, and forged a place in history as one of the greatest landscape painters of the 19th century.

“Duncanson was a phenomenon,” concludes Perry. “He made choices, he was bold and he attained a status of prestige that was unprecedented in the United States. That took strength and a trailblazing quality that I find inspiring.”


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