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.
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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.