Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)
Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)

Study for 'Sunset on the Shore of No Man's Land—Bass Fishing'

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)
Study for 'Sunset on the Shore of No Man's Land—Bass Fishing'
signed and dated 'SR Gifford 77' (lower right)
oil on canvas
9 x 16 ½ in. (22.9 x 41.9 cm.)
Painted in 1877.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
Ira Spanierman, Inc., New York, circa 1987.
Sotheby's, New York, 3 December 1987, lot 80 (as Bass Fishing at Sunset).
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
(Possibly) A Memorial Catalogue of the Paintings of Sanford Robinson Gifford, N.A., New York, 1881, p. 43, no. 659 (as Bass Fishing at No Man's Land, a Study).
I. Weiss, Poetic Landscape: The Art and Experience of Sanford R. Gifford, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1987, pp. 149, 310-11, illustrated (as Sunset Coastal Scene with Angler (Bass-Fishing at No-Man's Land)).
K.J. Avery, F. Kelly, ed., Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2003, p. 220, fig. 146, illustrated (as Coastal Scene with Angler (Bass-Fishing at Noman's Land)).

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William Haydock
William Haydock

Lot Essay

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

The present work is a study for Sunset on the Shore of No Man's Land--Bass Fishing (1878, Private Collection), which Gifford included on his List of Chief Pictures.

In October 1877, Sanford Robinson Gifford visited No Man's Land, a small island south of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast. An avid fishing enthusiast by the late 1870s, Gifford wrote to Alexander Holley, "I have been bass fishing most of the time since I saw you. I am just now going back to Noman's Land to make some notes of pictures I saw while there, but which I was too busy with big bass to record at the time." Earlier the New York Daily Tribune observed, "Mr. Sandford [sic] Gifford has found a new haunt on No Man's Land, a dreary island, inhabited by three families, south of Martha's Vineyard. What he has found there is unknown: hence there will be greater curiosity to see his work." Indeed, Ila Weiss writes that the present work "captures Gifford's active engagement with the locale...The sportsman-artist's actual, tactile, joyful experience of the place was captured in the vigorously painted study." (as quoted in I. Weiss, unpublished letter, September 2019)

Three figures are visible among the cliffs: a fisherman, as well as a seated and standing figure. According to Dr. Weiss, "That seated seems to be a woman bundled in a coat or blanket, wearing a beehive-shaped hat. The same hat, seemingly fur, appears in a small portrait by Gifford of his wife Cecilia, dated 1878. During the summer of 1877 they were keeping their marriage secret, and it is likely that the isolation of Noman's Land perfectly suited their needs." (unpublished letter, September 2019)

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