ca. 1855-63
oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 14 1/2 × 22 5/8 in. (36.83 × 57.47 cm)
Framed: 24 1/2 × 32 1/8 × 4 1/2 in. (62.23 × 81.6 × 11.43 cm)

The focal point of The Quarry is a bold cliff that rises above a waterfall’s pool. Beyond other rock formations, a field dotted with haystacks and a village at the foot of distant mountains appear indistinct with atmospheric haze. In an otherwise bucolic setting, a plume of factory smoke suggests technological and economic development.

Duncanson was a free African American who established an international reputation during the tumultuous decades surrounding the Civil War. Self-taught, he came to the attention of abolitionist leaders, who sponsored his study in Europe. By 1861, the Cincinnati-based artist was hailed in the American press as “the best landscape painter in the West.” At the height of his career, Duncanson successfully toured his paintings in England and Scotland. Self-exiled in Montreal during the war, the artist also helped launch a Canadian landscape movement.

Gift of the Council of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in commemoration of its Fiftieth Anniversary
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 42, p. 122-124).

"The Quarry. VMFA receives rare painting by Robert Scott Duncanson,"Richmond Free Press, May 25-27, 2006, p. B2, b&w ill.

Daniel Neman, "Museum acquisitions are diverse," Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sunday, June 11, 2006, p. H6, color ill.

Dan Bartges, Color is Everything (Richmond, VA: The Oaklea Press, 2008) pp. 41-42, color ills. pp. 41, 42 (det.).
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.