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 was respected for his natural talent at representing the landscape, a remarkable achievement for a self-taught black artist of his time. In the prosperous city of Cincinnati, Ohio, the community of abolitionists became Duncanson’s patrons, among them Richard Sutton Rust, who first owned The Caves.

During the mid-nineteenth century, caves were popular attractions, offering visitors escape from industrialization. Subterranean journeys were promoted as educational excursions for travelers, and caves offered guided tours. Here, Duncanson includes a guide in the shadows holding a lantern at the cave’s mouth. But might the painting have symbolic meaning beyond a depiction of an actual vacation destination? Caves frequently served as stops on the Underground Railroad, so it is possible Duncanson is alluding to the Civil War in this work.

Additional details

Location: Off 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.

Amon Carter Disclaimer

This information is published from the Carter's collection database. Updates and additions based on research and imaging activities are ongoing. The images, titles, and inscriptions are products of their time and are presented here as documentation, not as a reflection of the Carter’s values. If you have corrections or additional information about this object please email us to help us improve our records.

Every effort has been made to accurately determine the rights status of works and their images. Please email us if you have further information on the rights status of a work contrary or in addition to the information in our records.