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Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)
Property from the Estate of Richard J. Schwartz
Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)

The Palisades, New York

Details
Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)
The Palisades, New York
signed with initials and dated 'SRG 1854' (lower left)
oil on paper laid down on board
7 ½ x 10 ½ in. (19.1 x 26.7 cm.)
Painted in 1854.
Provenance
Wunderlich & Company, Inc., New York.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1984.

Lot Essay

A letter from the recognized expert, Dr. Ila Weiss, accompanies this lot.

According to Dr. Ila Weiss, "This is Gifford’s only known painting of the well-known Hudson River landmark before his return to that subject in the mid to late 1870s for very different effects of light and color. The 1854 painting, a finished oil study, is based on several drawings in a sketchbook owned by the Albany Institute of History and Art...The painting transforms the line drawing as a study of chiaroscuro, the cliff faces and woods dramatically lit and shaded as alternating diagonal bands beneath a brooding, changing sky, doubled in the water. The idea is extended by the array of sails, alternately catching the light against darker distant hills and nearer shadows, or shaded, dark against glowing mist. Light-capturing clouds near the upper edge, breaking up to reveal small patches of clear blue sky (explaining the dramatic light), complete the effect. While relatively rare in Gifford’s work, strong juxtapositions of light and dark, specifically on palisade-like vertical cliffs, are found in such paintings as an oil sketch of Capri Ferraglioni, painted in June 1857 (6 3/16 by 9 7/8 in., Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey); and a large view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland, painted in Rome that same year (53 ¼ in. by 41 ¼ in., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island). Other elements, such as the strongly modeled rocks along the bank and their reflections and the effect of backlighting on stands of trees, occur in numerous paintings by Gifford. Many works from the mid-fifties onward explore this painting’s compositional paradigm of a wedge-shaped landmass placed against sky and sky-reflected water, rethought as a color-light field." (unpublished letter, dated March 4, 2017)

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