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Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823 - 1880)

Lot 21: Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)


October 30, 2003
New York, NY, US

More About this Item


A Sketch at Manchester, Mass., 1865 bearing Sanford R. Gifford Estate stamp; inscribed “#397” (on stretcher) and indistinctly inscribed “Manchester, Mass., Aug. 28, 1865, SR Gifford” (on reverse) oil on canvas


8 7/8 x 18 5/8 in. (22.5 x 47.3 cm)

Artist or Maker

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)


Kirby and Co., New York, Sanford R. Gifford Estate Sale, April 28-29, 1881, No. 60, as “At Manchester, Mass”
Estate of Mr. Robert Connors, Millbrook, New york

Sanford R. Gifford Memorial Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1861, No. 397.


According to Ila Weiss, Gifford’s biographer, this painting is one of ten oil sketches that Gifford — in the company of James Suydam and Worthington Whittredge – painted along the Massachusetts coast during July and August, 1865. Although Gifford described Manchester’s scenery as “simple, without being monotonous,” his innate Luminist sensibilities enabled him to transcend this straightforward description. Although this might at first appear to be a casual sketch of a rocky coastline, it is instead – like all of Gifford’s paintings – a carefully controlled composition of precise geometries and atmospheric light and color. The painting is neatly bisected horizontally between water and sky, a horizontality that is reinforced by its 1:2 proportions. The edges of the rocky foreground ledge that serves as the spectator’s perch suggest a central crossing parallelogram that stabilizes the view, even as its open-ended horizontality symbolizes an infinity that is heightened by its gentle, pervasive illumination. A copy of Dr. Ila Weiss’s letter in which she discusses this painting accompanies this lot.

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American Art

October 30, 2003, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US