April 16, 1996

Lifting the Veil: Robert S. Duncanson and the Emergence of the African-American Artist at Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth

Lifting the Veil: Robert S. Duncanson and the Emergence of the African-American Artist
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth
April 20 - June 16, 1996

Lifting the Veil: Robert S. Duncanson and the Emergence of the African-American Artist is the first national touring exhibition of paintings by African-American painter Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872), freeborn artist of color who rose from house painter to accomplished landscape painter in the years preceding the Civil War. Best known for his views of nature, Robert S. Duncanson created a distinctive pastoral style of romantic landscape painting and became the principal artist of the Ohio River Valley tradition at midcentury.

Lifting the Veil contains more than fifty oil paintings, including Land of the Lotus Eaters (1861), from the collection of His Royal Majesty the King of Sweden; Uncle Tom and Little Eva (1853), Detroit Institute of Arts; and Blue Hole, Flood Waters, Little Miami River (1851), Cincinnati Art Museum. Also represented are manuscripts, newspapers, books, and drawings.

Robert S. Duncanson's career spans a time of tremendous racial upheaval, from the antebellum era through emancipation and Reconstruction. Some scholars interpret Robert S. Duncanson's paintings as thinly veiled messages that were understood by his African-American community. Just as slave songs held double significance, Robert S. Duncanson's paintings contained references to the evils of slavery. By closely examining his landscape painting in the light of contemporary historical and social events, one can "lift the veil" and expose their underlying content--the experience of an African-American living in the antebellum United States.

Joseph D. Ketner, Director of the Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis, curated the exhibition Lifting the Veil and authored the accompanying publication. The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson, 1821-1872 (235 pages, 144 black and white illustrations, 20 color plates) is available in the Museum Bookstore for $27.50.

The Amon Carter Museum is the third venue on a national tour which opened last fall in Duncanson's hometown of Cincinnati, with a major collaborative showing at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum. Lifting the Veil was seen at the Washington University Gallery of Art this winter, and following its showing at the Carter, will travel to the Clark-Atlanta University Art Gallery and Hammonds House Galleries in Atlanta, July 19-September 15, 1996, as one of the chief cultural attractions of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

The national tour of Lifting the Veil is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funds for the exhibition were provided by the Hortense Lewin Art Fund and the St. Louis Printmarket Fund of Washington University. The exhibition is organized by the Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis. 

AMON CARTER MUSEUM
Fort Worth, Texas
cartermuseum.org

Updated 23.06.2019