Landscape with Rainbow

by Robert S. Duncanson

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Artist Statement

Completed in 1859, Landscape with Rainbow is one of painter Robert S. Duncanson’s most famous works. Poetic, pastoral, and bathed in ethereal light, the piece showcases some of Duncanson’s signature motifs inspired by European Romanticism and the Old Masters. The Smithsonian interprets the painting as a symbol of “a late hope for peace before the onset of Civil War,” the elm alluding to liberty and the rainbow to hope. 


Landscape with Rainbow recently returned to the spotlight when this deeply symbolic, pastoral scene was chosen as the official inaugural painting, the first gift offered to President Biden following his inauguration. Senator Roy Blunt presented the President and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden—who selected the artwork herself—with the particularly poignant piece, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It brought with it an air of renewal, reinforcing a sense of hope and promise that’s been stirring since election day.

Why We Love It

An archetypal example of Duncanson’s art, Landscape with Rainbow debuted in 1859 to great acclaim. One reviewer even called it “one of the most beautiful pictures painted on this side of the [Allegheny] mountains.” A rainbow—always an auspicious sign—arcs over a lilac sky, golden hour light illuminating the land while the sun begins to set in the horizon. It is a serene, bucolic scene, replete with rolling hills, a placid lake, lush grasses, and a few leisurely cows grazing on the fat of the land. A couple traverses the field, admiring the view, a dog at foot with his nose to the soil. At the end of the rainbow is a cottage, presumably the couple’s—a cozy resting spot nestled in a wood, warmed by a hearth that’s sending a drift of smoke through the chimney. A safe and happy home, you might infer, is the essence of this idyll ... Read more on the blog!

Details

Through 2021, we’re donating 20% of sales of this print to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight, in support of their work promoting fair elections, fostering voter participation and education, and combating voter suppression around the country.

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Museo Portfolio Rag

Edition Structure:
8"x10" | edition of 10
11"x14" | edition of 200
16"x20" | edition of 25
20"x24" | edition of 10
30"x40" | edition of 5

Robert S. Duncanson

Born in Fayette, New York in 1821, painter Robert S. Duncanson is widely considered the first African-American artist to be internationally renowned. The son of a free Black tradesman and carpenter, Duncanson established his own housepainting business in Detroit in 1828. After about ten years, he decided to close the business to pursue portraiture in the Cincinnati area, a region where both the fine arts community and African-American population were flourishing at the time. With no formal art education, Duncanson honed his skills as an itinerant portrait painter, establishing an influential network of support with wealthy abolitionist patrons. Inspired by... Read More
the Hudson River School style, Duncanson began to progress into landscape painting, a particularly popular genre in the Ohio River area.  He explored the midwest region extensively with fellow artists T. Worthington Whittredge and William Louis Sonntag, and in 1853 set off on a grand tour of Europe, finding inspiration in new environments, Romantic poetry, and the Old Masters. Duncanson left the United States at the onset of the Civil War, settling in Montreal, where he is credited as inspiring a new generation of Canadian landscape painters. His work was widely praised throughout North America and Europe with the London Art Journal declaring him a “true master of landscape painting” in 1865.
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