The Detroit Free Press reports on the discovery of a lost African American work:
Ryan Adams, a student at the University of Detroit Mercy, was scrounging through the basement of the student union at the school a few years ago when he came upon a beautiful but damaged painting of a woman, presumably Mary Magdalene, kneeling before a cross and surrounded by the crown of thorns and other Passion iconography. The modest-sized canvas, 30 inches by 24 1/2 inches, was signed R.S. Duncanson and dated 1846.
Robert Scott Duncanson, who lived in Detroit in 1845-46, was the first African-American to achieve international acclaim. The discovery — conserved and newly installed at the Detroit Institute of Arts — is important because it’s a sterling early work by the artist. Duncanson (1821-72) is best known for the sweeping landscapes from late in his career, but he also painted still lifes and genre scenes.
“It’s one of the finest of his earliest works, and it’s an extremely rare and important discovery,” said Duncanson biographer Joseph Ketner, an art historian at Emerson College in Boston. [ . . . ]
Putting a price tag on the picture is tricky because of its rarity and the lack of analogous works in the auction record. Large landscapes from Duncanson’s maturity have sold recently for more than $300,000 and a small still life sold for about $222,000 in 2000, according to a database at artnet.com. Smaller Duncanson landscapes have sold in the $40,000-$70,000 range.
DIA Displays Duncanson Work Founds in Basement (Detroit Free Press)