Duncanson painted Maiden’s Rock during the US Civil War (1861–65) after taking a sketching tour up the Mississippi River. The site is known for a legend about a young Dakota woman. Duncanson represented Native Americans in several works, including paintings completed on the same trip. Unlike most landscapes of the era, Maiden’s Rock shows a Black man, who is seated in the boat, leisurely adrift in the lake.
For much of his career Duncanson was based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and by the 1850s he was recognized as one of the preeminent Midwestern landscape painters. He was influential in Canada and acclaimed by English critics. Although Duncanson was denied access to the same resources and artistic training as his White counterparts, as a free African American he found support among patrons and peers.
Lisa Crossman, 2020
landscapes; painting; seascapes; boats; African American; water
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