Meet the Artist: Robert Seldon Duncanson

Profile June 10, 2020
A painting depicts a landscape scene. Two trees in the foreground frame a mountain peak in the background and the sky is bright with the colors of sunset.
Robert Duncanson, American Landscape, 1852, Carnegie Museum of Art

We may not know where exactly Robert Seldon Duncanson was standing when he saw this picturesque landscape, but we do know that it captured his eye on a sketching trip through Pennsylvania and New York shortly after the artist came to Pittsburgh in July 1852.

Duncanson visited Pittsburgh early in his career as he transitioned from itinerant painter to a landscape painter of great renown—he would go on to become one of the first African American artists to garner an international reputation. This city was the initial stop on a tour of his first historical landscape, The Garden of Eden. The large and ambitious canvas—purportedly five feet high by seven feet wide—was on view from July 12 to July 17 (yes, less than a week), at Philo Hall, on Third Avenue, downtown.

American Landscape’s bucolic charm and romanticized view of the natural world are hallmarks of his early work and were inspired by the Hudson River School of painting. This relatively recent addition to our collection features prominently in A Pittsburgh Anthology. We hope you take another look at its bucolic charm when our galleries are open once again.