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Robert Scott Duncanson
Landscape with Rainbow
1859
oil
30 1/8 x 52 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Leonard and Paula Granoff



As America moved steadily toward Civil War, its most-renowned African American painter created this vision of a calm, orderly world. Tiny figures, seemingly unaffected by the panoramic scale of their surroundings, walk in an Eden-like setting graced by a rainbow. The wandering cattle and nearby cottage reinforce the sense that man lives in harmony with nature. Duncanson, son of free blacks, seems to envision a future free of prejudice and strife.