Amon Carter print details

The Caves

Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821-1872)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    36 x 30 3/4 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed l.l. in red pigment: .Duncanson. \ 1869

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

During his lifetime, Duncanson, a self-taught Black artist, drew praise for his landscape paintings. In the prosperous city of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for most of his career, a community of abolitionists became Duncanson’s patrons, among them the Methodist preacher Richard Sutton Rust, the first owner of The Caves.

Caves were popular tourist attractions during the mid-19th century. Subterranean journeys were promoted as educational excursions for travelers, and guided tours of caves became commonplace. Here, Duncanson includes a guide holding a lantern in the shadows of the cave’s mouth, perhaps suggesting one such tour. But the figure may have carried additional meaning for the artist and his Cincinnati patrons: Caves frequently served as stops on the Underground Railroad for people escaping enslavement, and the choice of subject may have commemorated abolitionist efforts in Ohio.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view


Educator Resources
  • Why is the grandeur of the American landscape such a compelling subject?

    How do artists create depth, light, and texture in landscape paintings?

    How does an artist provide viewers a sense of scale in an artwork?

    In what ways and for what purposes have people engaged with the land?

    Why were serene landscapes popular during the post-Civil War era?

  • Grades Pre-K–3

    The people we see in the painting traveled to enjoy this spot and the adventures they could have here. When you travel, and finally arrive at your destination, what are some things you do? Do you explore, go to a park, go on an adventure? Students can draw their adventure at the destination of their choice.

    Grades 4–8

    Imagine that you are a reporter who can travel back in time. Your assignment is to travel back to the 1860s and '70s to interview the internationally famous painter Robert Seldon Duncanson. Think about what you and your readers might want to know about the artist.

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