Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford

Overview

Sanford Gifford (1823–1880), a leading Hudson River School landscape painter and a founder of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, was so esteemed by the New York art world that, at his untimely death, the Museum mounted a show of his work—the first monographic exhibition accorded any artist—and published a Memorial Catalogue that, for nearly a century, remained the principal source on his oeuvre.

Gifford's art, which was inspired by the work of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson...

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Overview

Sanford Gifford (1823–1880), a leading Hudson River School landscape painter and a founder of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, was so esteemed by the New York art world that, at his untimely death, the Museum mounted a show of his work—the first monographic exhibition accorded any artist—and published a Memorial Catalogue that, for nearly a century, remained the principal source on his oeuvre.

Gifford's art, which was inspired by the work of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, and by that of J. M. W. Turner, and was enriched by his travels in Europe (from 1855 to 1857, and from 1868 to 1869), came to be called "air painting," for he made the ambient light of each scene—color saturated and atmospherically potent—the key to its expression. His approach to painting and his unique style gave rise to a highly distinctive body of work, of enchanting and mesmerizing effect. While Gifford himself compiled a "List of Chief Pictures" late in his career, a significant part of his extant oeuvre consists of small-scale studies, preparatory works in oil, and original drawings, most of which are in annotated sketchbooks and document the progression from on-site record to idealized vision achieved in his major pictures.

The four essays that open the catalogue—which accompanies the first exhibition of Gifford's work since 1970—examine the artist's place in the Hudson River School (Franklin Kelly), his numerous Catskill Mountain subjects (Kevin J. Avery), his experiences and perceptions as a traveler both at home and abroad (Heidi Applegate), and the variety of his patrons (Eleanor Jones Harvey). Following are entries by Avery and Kelly that discuss in detail the seventy paintings by the artist in the exhibition; each is shown in color and many are supplemented by comparative illustrations of related works by Gifford, his Hudson River School mentors and colleagues, and those painters, in addition to Cole and Turner, who exerted some influence on his art—among them Frederic Edwin Church and John F. Kensett. [This book was originally published in 2003 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300199949
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 10.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Directors' Foreword
Preface and Acknowledgments
Lenders to the Exhibition
Nature Distilled: Gifford's Vision of Landscape 3
Gifford and the Catskills 25
A Traveler by Instinct 53
Tastes in Transition: Gifford's Patrons 75
Catalogue 91
Chronology 243
Selected Bibliography 256
Index 262
Photograph Credits 274
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Everything we want in a Hudson River School book

    I was pleasantly surprised in reading this book. The quality of the images was great and the text was written in a concise way. It was both informative and easy to read. Avery and company are true Hudson River School scholars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    Revisiting Sanford Robinson Gifford

    One of the American masters of landscape painting in the nineteenth century was Sanford Robinson Gifford, and though he was highly celebrated in his lifetime, his name appears now only occasionally when the topic of the Hudson River School of art is discussed. This excellent monograph, which accompanied an exhibition of his work in 2003 - 2004, serves to restore the reputation of one of our less widely known artists who captured Americana on canvas and was an important leader of the Hudson River School of painting. More than seventy reproductions of Gifford's paintings and drawings grace the pages of this book - scenes of the Adirondacks and Catskills, luminous river scenes filled with the transparency of fog and light. But the book also serves as an historical document with photographs and information about Gifford and his travels abroad with the obvious influence of JMW Turner. His perception and use of ambient light so distinct to the Hudson River Valley are both discussed and illustrated. This is a fine monograph of an important artist: it is also a superb study in art history of one of the most eloquent schools of painting in American history. Recommended. Grady Harp

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