Walters Art Museum acquires painting by Richard Seldon Duncanson

The Walters has purchased the final major work associated with a grant by Eddie and C. Sylvia Brown, River Scene (1868), a serene landscape by Richard Seldon Duncanson (1821-1872), which is now on view in the Walters’ 19th-Century Galleries.

Robert Seldon Duncanson, River Scene (1868), oil on canvas, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Eddie and Sylvia Brown Challenge Grant and matching funds, 2012, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (37.2933)

Duncanson, the most recently added artist acquired through this grant, was an individual who faced prejudices as a “free colored person,” but was hailed in 1861 as “the best landscape painter of the West.” His art depicted the Ohio River Valley and the vast North American landscape. River Scene (1868) is an idealized landscape that reveals a luminosity characteristic of his work. He included several small finely dressed black figures in the painting that are engaged in leisure activities, demonstrating that although Duncanson worked in the American landscape tradition, he added a nuanced African American perspective. This painting will be on view through Black History Month in February and then brought to our Conservation labs for study.

In 2002, philanthropists Eddie and C. Sylvia Brown created The Brown Challenge Grant, donating $500,000 to the Walters Art Museum, to be matched by the museum, creating a $1 million fund for the purchase of art by 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century African American artists. The Walters has purchased a number of works by African American artists through this fund, including works by Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937). –

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