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Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Robert Scott Duncanson

Scottish Landscape, c. 1870

Oil on canvas

15" x 21"


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Scottish Landscape

Scottish Landscape has been attributed to nineteenth-century African American painter Robert S. Duncanson. Duncanson worked in and around the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, a thriving arts center on the frontier of an expanding United States. Heavily influenced by the Hudson River School aesthetic of landscape painting, Duncanson also sought inspiration from European landscape and literary traditions. His absorption of European and mainstream American aesthetic standards undoubtedly assured his commercial success and popularity; however, he was not isolated from the racial issues that were paramount in America during the middle of the nineteenth century. Duncanson benefited from abolitionist patronage and actively supported the antislavery movement.

He remained steadfast in his pursuit of achievement in landscape painting in an international arena and traveled to Europe, England, Scotland, and Canada, where he gained experience and inspiration. Scotland was a particularly rich source of inspiration for Duncanson who, on his return from abroad in the mid-1860s, began a series of Scottish landscapes in keeping with the style and structure of the Driskell Collection's Scottish Landscape. From the immediacy of the rocks in the foreground to the majesty of the mountains and clouds, Duncanson creates a vantage point in which nature's elements of sun, sky, water, land, and foliage converge in a rugged landscape.   A. L. C.

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