Robert S. Duncanson

Robert S. Duncanson
Also Known as
Robert Scott Duncanson
Robert Duncanson
Robert Seldon Duncanson
Seneca County, New York 1821
Detroit, Michigan 1872
Active in
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Italy
U.S. States
Linked Open Data
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Luce Artist Biography

Robert S. Duncanson was one of the few landscape painters of African American descent to achieve international recognition. His father was a Canadian of Scottish descent, and his mother was black. He spent his teenage years as a housepainter in Monroe, Michigan, but moved to Cincinnati in 1840 to become an artist (The Taft Museum, Hudson Hill Press, 1995). His work attracted the attention of Nicholas Longworth, a wealthy landowner and patron who had supported the sculptor Hiram Powers. Longworth commissioned Duncanson to paint a series of murals in his home and, with other prominent Cincinnati residents, sponsored the young artist’s trip to Europe. Duncanson felt his own paintings measured up to the work of European artists, commenting that “of all the landscapes I saw in Europe (and I saw thousands) I do not feel discouraged.” (1854, Platt R. Spencer Collection, Newberry Library, Chicago, quoted in “Robert Duncanson: The Late Literary Landscape Paintings,” Ketner, American Art Journal, Winter 1983)