President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ new administration has already been introduced with numerous inaugural presents, but perhaps none is as poignant as a 19th-century landscape portray, titled Landscape with Rainbow, on loan from the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. This specific painting gifted to the Biden administration at the 46th President’s inauguration on January 20, 2020 is additional than just a landscape portray, however. It is steeped in symbolism.
Reminiscent of the Hudson River Valley College motion, Landscape with Rainbow was produced in 1859 by a Black abolitionist painter named Robert S. Duncanson. Despite the fact that the artist’s title is fairly mysterious nowadays (outdoors of Ohio), Duncanson was one particular of the most completed Black artists in the U.S. in the mid-1800s. In truth, SAAM describes him as “America’s finest identified African American painter in the several years encompassing the Civil War.” He manufactured various landscapes based mostly on the Ohio River Valley.
Landscape with Rainbow is characteristic of his oeuvre, depicting a youthful few going for walks throughout an open, tranquil farm dotted with cows just as a rainbow frames the blue sky. Made in the course of the a long time main up to the Civil War, the rainbow is intended to symbolize a hope for a peaceful future—something that parallels President Biden’s inaugural message and that of other speakers from the day, such as poet laureate Amanda Gorman.
In accordance to SAAM, “Duncanson’s vision of rural The usa as Arcadia, a landscape akin to paradise, is a characteristic element of his get the job done, a late hope for peace right before the onset of Civil War.”