Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In this view of the Bosporus, the strait that forms the boundary between Europe and Asia, Gifford applies the atmospheric, luminist style of his Hudson River School landscapes to a well-known vista in the Near East. Western tourists counted the Bosporus and Leander’s Tower, the lighthouse that rises above the water on the left side of the painting, among Turkey’s major attractions. Echoing other period accounts, Gifford described the harbor as the “vision of a fairy land . . .the towers and domes and minarets, glittering and golden in the early sun.”

Gifford visited and sketched the Bosporus while traveling through the Near East in 1869. Like many nineteenth-century American painters, he journeyed abroad to capitalize on the growing interest in “oriental” subjects. In the 1870s, he completed multiple paintings of Turkey and Egypt based on sketches from his trip.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Sanford Robinson Gifford, American (Greenfield, NY 1823 - 1880 New York, NY)
Leander's Tower on the Bosporus
Other Titles
Former Title: Leander's Tower on the Bosphorus
Former Title: In the Bosphorus
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2120, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Lure of the East
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
48.4 x 99.4 cm (19 1/16 x 39 1/8 in.)
frame: 77.5 x 128.3 x 11.4 cm (30 1/2 x 50 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: S R Gifford, 1876
Purchased by William Hayes Fogg, New York, NY, before 1877, bequest; to his wife, Mrs. William Hayes Fogg, 1884, bequest; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1895.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Mrs. William Hayes Fogg
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

John F. Weir, A Memorial Catalogue of the Paintings of Sanford Robinson Gifford, N.A., exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1881), no. 645

Nikolai Cikovsky, Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880), exh. cat., University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX, 1970), p. 77, no. 57, ill.

Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 80, ill.

John Wilmerding, ed., The Genius of American Painting, William Morrow & Company (New York, 1973), pp. 143-145, ill. p. 144

Ila Weiss, "Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880)" (PhD Diss., Columbia University, 1975), Xerox University Microfilms, pp. 320, 321; pl IX C 1, p. 593

Ila Weiss, Poetic Landscape: The Art and Experience of Sanford R. Gifford, University of Delaware Press (Newark, DE, 1987), p. 304, ill. p. 303

Kevin J. Avery and Franklin Kelly, ed., Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press (New York; New Haven and London, 2003), p. 216, cat. 59, ill.

Kimberly Orcutt, "Personal Collecting Meets Institutional Vision: The Origins of Harvard's Fogg Art Museum", Journal of the History of Collections (2006), vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 267-284, p. 270; p. 272, fig. 4, p. 274

Sandra Kelberlau, "How One Landscape-Painter Paints: The Technique of Sanford Robinson Gifford" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, June 2006), Unpublished, pp. 1-8 passim

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), ill. p. 163

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), p. 26, 223-225, cat 174, ill.

Exhibition History

Annual Exhibition, 1877, National Academy of Design, New York, 01/01/1877 - 12/31/1877

175th Anniversary Celebration Honoring William Hayes Fogg Family, Berwick Academy, S. Berwick, 10/21/1966 - 10/23/1966

Sanford Robinson Gifford, 1823-1880, University of Texas at Austin Art Museum, Austin, 11/01/1970 - 11/30/1970; Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, 01/01/1971 - 01/31/1971; Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 02/01/1971 - 03/31/1971

American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972

Sanford Robinson Gifford, 1823-1880, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/07/2003 - 02/08/2004; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, 03/06/2004 - 05/16/2004; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/27/2004 - 09/26/2004

Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2120 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

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Visual description by Jeff Steward, Director of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology. Written April 2018.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at