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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Sanford Robinson Gifford, American (Greenfield, NY 1823 - 1880 New York, NY)
Work Type
19th century
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Sketchbook with green fabric covers
8.3 x 15.7 x 0.3 cm (3 1/4 x 6 3/16 x 1/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
By descent through artist's family, 1880; Alice Carter Gifford, Cambridge, MA; bequeathed to her son Sanford Gifford, Cambridge, MA; his gift to the Harvard University Art Museums, 2001.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Sanford Gifford
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Sketchbook with green-moiré-covered cardboard covers. Sewn page block, pages unbound. Ten pages of off-white laid paper, each 8.2 x 15.5 cm. One drawing, in graphite. Front pastedown has small mountain landscape drawn in graphite.
Archives of American Art reel 688 numbers this book SG1.
Sanford Robinson Gifford is considered--along with artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Frederick E. Church, Worthington Whittredge and Martin Johnson Heade--to be one of the most important artists of the Hudson River School’s second generation. Gifford’s atmospheric landscapes can be distinguished from the work of his peers by his use of glowing color to suggest a veil of light placed over the scene. The Harvard Art Museum has in its collection one of the greatest of Gifford’s European landscapes, "Leander’s Tower on the Bosphorus," 1876 (1895.716).

The sketchbooks contain scenes from intermittent periods, ranging from the mid-1840s to 1874. The small book from the mid-1840s (just after Gifford’s education at Brown University from 1842-44) reflects his focus at that time on figurative studies. Those of the early 1850s depict his trips through Pennsylvania and New York, while several others date from the early 1860s, as Gifford was exploring the Hudson River landscape and northern New England. Two of the latter group contain several sketches of Gifford’s fellow artist Whittredge. An 1856-57 sketchbook documents part of Gifford’s travels in Italy, and includes sketches of Bierstadt, traveling with Gifford in Capri. In an 1861 sketchbook, Gifford--one of the few artists of his generation to serve during the Civil War--sketched portraits of his fellow soldiers in the Seventh Regiment of the New York State National Guard. Finally, the 1874 sketchbook dates from Gifford’s trip out to the West Coast.

Publication History

  • Ila Weiss, Poetic Landscape: The Art and Experience of Sanford R. Gifford, University of Delaware Press (Newark, DE, 1987), p. 332; front pastedown, p. 299
  • Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 23

Exhibition History

  • Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2006 - 10/22/2006

Related Works

Verification Level

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