Robert Scott Duncanson was among the few African American painters with an active professional career during the 19th century. Studying art on his own, Duncanson was very much inspired by the Hudson River School painters and, in particular, the landscape painter Thomas Cole. During the 1840s Duncanson received many commissions and exhibited his portraits and later, after moving to Cincinnati, he became a much sought after landscape artist in light of his rendering of the Ohio River Valley. In Chapultepec Castle, the artist, like many of the Hudson River School painters, uses a strong horizon line and depth of perspective to convey a sense of tamed beauty in the midst of the American wilderness. Duncanson contrasts both the coexistence and tension between nature and man through his inclusion of trees and fauna alongside people and architectural structures. There is an other-worldliness aspect to many of his works, and he, like Cole and others, was concerned with the presence of the sublime in much of the then ?undiscovered? natural world.


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