CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The Inaugural Painting chosen by Dr. Jill Biden is the work of a renowned Cincinnati artist.
It was created by Robert S. Duncanson, a painter based in Cincinnati in the years surrounding the Civil War, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where the painting is housed.
The Smithsonian calls Duncanson “America’s best known African American painter” of the era.
Supported by abolitionists, Duncanson painted “Landscape with Rainbow” (below) in 1859.
The oil painting shows a pastoral landscape featuring a young couple strolling through fertile pastureland toward a house at the end of a rainbow. The cattle nearby “[reinforce] the sense that man lives in harmony with nature,” according to the Smithsonian.
The museum notes Duncanson’s works conceptualize rural America as Arcadian and paradisiacal, reflecting a “late hope for peace before the onset of the Civil War.”
A series of landscape murals commissioned by native Cincinnatian Nicholas Longworth now hang at the Taft Museum. According to the Taft, they are recognized as “the most significant pre-Civil War domestic murals” in the United States.
Duncanson moved to Cincinnati in 1840 on the dream of becoming an artist. He taught himself to paint by copying prints of European paintings and sketching from nature, the Taft says.
Duncanson eventually became an acclaimed landscape painter, even painting for Victoria, Queen of England, according to the Taft.
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