Sat, Oct 6, 2018 10:00AM EDT
Robert Scott Duncanson (American, 1821-1872). Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1843 on reverse of canvas. Framed; 28.75 x 24 in. (sight).
Robert S. Duncanson was born in Fayette, New York, and grew up in Monroe, Michigan. He moved to Cincinnati in 1841 with the ambition of becoming an artist, after having trained as an ornamental painter and carpenter in Michigan. He soon received portrait commissions, and extended his skills to genre, still life, and historical painting. After familiarizing himself with the works of Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole and William Sonntag, he established a reputation as a landscape painter and received the attention of Nicholas Longworth, a well-known Cincinnati art patron, who sponsored Duncanson's trip to Europe in 1853-1854, making him the first African American artist to undertake the Grand Tour. Back in Cincinnati, during the late 1850s, he returned to portraiture, producing several portraits of local abolitionists.
This portrait, dated 1843, is an early example in Duncanson's career. James Foster, Sr. was a significant figure of Cincinnati's business life in the mid-19th century. With his son, James Foster, Jr., he took a keen interest in scientific progress, especially scientific instruments. James Foster Jr. in fact went on to run a shop at 5th and Race streets after 1853, and some if his instruments are included in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Mary Sayre Haverstock, Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900, 2000. Pp. 244-245.