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Charles Henry Gifford (1839 - 1904)

Lot 1022: CHARLES HENRY GIFFORD, American, 1839-1904, "Indians at Gay Head",, Oil on canvas, 12" x 20". Framed.

Eldred's

August 6, 2010
East Dennis, MA, US

More About this Item


Description

CHARLES HENRY GIFFORD
American, 1839-1904

"Indians at Gay Head", depicting a Wampanoag wetu onshore and sailboats and a canoe off shore. Signed and dated lower right "C.H. Gifford 1876".
Provenance: The Katonah Gallery, NY.
Private Collection, Massachusetts
.
Charles Henry Gifford was born in the Massachusetts coastal village of Fairhaven in 1839. Although fascinated by art at an early age, his eventual career was delayed by his father's desire for him to learn a trade, as well as to serve in the Civil War. After the end of his enlistment, which included a month as a prisoner of war in Virginia's infamous Libby Prison, Gifford would return to Fairhaven and dedicate his life to the pursuit of his art.


At the time of his return, the neighboring city of New Bedford was not only a busy whaling port, but also a resplendent artistic community where some of the best artists of the day maintained studios or consistently showed their works. Included in the group were leading marine artists Alfred Van Beest and William Bradford, but it was the famed luminist landscape painter Alfred Bierstadt who made the strongest early impression on young Gifford, who, in his own words, admitted that "what set me to painting was...seeing an exhibition of Bierstadt's paintings...I was so enthused that I came home, got some cloth and paint and went right to work".


By the late 1860s Gifford had become an established and successful New Bedford marine artist, specializing in what he would later call his "little gems", small detailed maritime views of coastal Massachusetts. By the 1870s Gifford's career was firmly established. Despite the fact that he had no formal artistic training, he was producing highly accomplished landscape and maritime works. The later half of the decade found Gifford executing a series of larger luminous works that rivaled the best of William Bradford, Fitz H. Lane, and his childhood icon, Bierstadt.


"Indians at Gay Head", dated 1876, was completed during this extremely productive period. It is not only one of the artist's finest known works, but also a masterpiece of American Luminism in its own right. The combination of its composition, calmness, and richly diffused light practically define the Luminist school. While the brilliant effects of light is the first thing noticed in all great luminous works, this light is often masking a flurry of daily activities occurring in the majesty of the American landscape. This work, set against the looming backdrop of Martha's Vineyard's Gay Head cliffs, includes a small group of Wampanoag Indians outside of their shoreline wetu, while two men paddle a small canoe from the shore. The background is completed with numerous ships sailing in the distance, and seabirds diving from the sky.
Provenance: Private collection, Massachusetts.

Oil on canvas, 12" x 20". Framed.

Condition Report

Relined. One small area of inpaint (less than an inch in diameter) inbetween the two boats at right on horizon.


The absence of a condition report does NOT imply that an an object is free of defects or restoration. Please contact Eldred's before bidding with any questions as to condition. Condition reports are provided as a complimentary service and only reflect the opinion of Eldred's and should not be taken as a statement of fact. Condition reports only detail flaws or restorations and do not take into account wear, fading, or other issues consistent with an object's age.

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Americana & Paintings Session 3

by
Eldred's
August 6, 2010, 10:00 AM EST

East Dennis, MA, US

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