Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This painting shows a view of the Laurentian Mountains in Canada, near the province of Québec.
- Robert Seldon Duncanson was a well-known landscape painter. He was inspired by artists in the Hudson River School, who painted landscapes in the mountains of New York State. They made detailed paintings celebrating America’s natural beauty.
- Duncanson was one of the first African American artists to become internationally famous. His work was respected and praised during his lifetime. He was part of a network of free Black artists in Cincinnati, Ohio. The city was a center for artistic and abolitionist activity.
- Art collectors bought Duncanson’s work or commissioned (hired) him to paint for them, helping to secure his fame. These collectors were often white abolitionists. They supported Black artists as a statement of their anti-slavery views.
- Duncanson was born free, but he lived most of his life during slavery. He tried to escape racism by going to Canada during the American Civil War. He painted A View in the Laurentian Mountains, near Québec during that time.
Duncanson’s serene Canadian landscape portrays a distant boat on a lake surrounded by the Laurentian Mountains, just north of the Saint Lawrence River. The son of an African American mother and a Scottish Canadian father, Duncanson established a successful career in Cincinnati and was the first African American artist to achieve international acclaim.
After the outbreak of the Civil War, he traveled north temporarily and found refuge from anti-Black fervor in Canada, where he continued his profession as a leading landscape painter. Duncanson exhibited his landscapes in Montreal and is credited with inspiring a younger generation of Canadian landscape painters.
Resources for Teachers
- Read an article about Duncanson’s life and legacy.
- Read an article about Canada’s reaction to the American Civil War.
- Watch a video about another painting by this artist.
- Read an article about the artist’s connection to the Hudson River School.
Resources for Students