Robert Rucker was a native of New Orleans, and he opened his own gallery in the French Quarter at the age of sixteen. Immediately, Rucker found himself surrounded by fine artists of the New Orleans area, like Knute Heldner and Clarence Millet, two of his earliest influences. At the age of seventeen, he developed polio, an event that ironically became a blessing rather than a handicap.
Because of his illness, the Louisiana Department of Education funded his schooling at the John McCrady School of Fine Arts in New Orleans. Rucker studied under McCrady for the next five years, developing a style that would later become synonymous with New Orleans and the surrounding countryside of the Mississippi Delta.
Rucker’s most famous subject is perhaps the steamboat. His love of them came from his family, having two grandfathers who were steamboat captains. He produced many variations on the theme during his career. He is also well known for various bayou scenes and the south Louisiana countryside, themes that he eventually began to render in an impressionistic style and often with pastel tones during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rucker held exhibits in Baton Rouge and New Orleans as well as Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis and Cleveland. In addition to being an art teacher at his own gallery, he was a textile designer, an art teacher for the City of New Orleans and a medical artist for Tulane Medical School. Robert Rucker died of a heart attack in 2001.