Duncanson Murals, about 1850
The first African American artist to achieve an international reputation, Robert Duncanson moved to Cincinnati after 1840 to embark on an artistic career. Nicholas Longworth (1782–1863), who owned Belmont, now the Taft Museum of Art, from 1829 to 1863, commissioned a suite of eight large landscape paintings from Duncanson to decorate to foyer of his home. The paintings are surrounded by trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) frames and accompanied by overdoor decorations of floral bouquets. Painted in the Hudson River School style characterized by Romantic views of virgin landscape, the imagined landscapes in the murals evoke the Ohio River Valley.