Archive for March 19, 2010

African Americans in Art… Robert Scott Duncanson

Mr. Robert Scott Duncanson was a great painter, known for creating great floral pieces and then later landscapes in his style of the Hudson River school of painting. He did many studies on his own looking at the master paintings of the Hudson River School. Born to a father from Canada and a mother from the states his father wanted him to be educated in a tolerant society so the family went to Canada.

The family then moved to Ohio and Mr. Duncanson found a great supporter and backer in Nicholas Longworth. Mr. Longworth commissioned him for paint murals in his residence. Duncanson travelled to europe for sketching trips several times. Just as his career was really blossoming Mr. Duncanson had a mental breakdown and died in a mental hospital in 1872. Some theories claim he suffered from lead poisining it was never proven.

African Americans in Art… Henry Ossawa Tanner


Born in 1859, he was the first African American painter to achieve nationwide recognition within the art world. He was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in a highly religious family. His father a preacher moved the family to Philadelphia and there Tanner studied with the great painter Thomas Eakins.

After working as an illustrator for a few years he went to France. He saw the advancement of careers happen with the blessings of one painting. The painting that did this for him was the Banjo Lesson made in 1894. He specialized for some time in animal portraits, then landscapes, and finally religious scenes.

In 1899 he married a white woman from the California. Deciding that his marriage wouldn’t be accepted by the culture in the United States the couple made Paris their home. He lived until 1937. He thought of Paris as his natural home simply for the way the arts and creativity where encouraged regardless of race or creed.