Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
A seascape with boats and a tower rising from a harbor

Golden sunlight fills the sky, and reflects off the water of a harbor. In the middle distance at left, a blocky, stone building with a tower rising from its center, stands on a platform in the water. A few figures that can be seen walking on the platform are reflected on the calm surface of the water, alongside the tower. Closer to us, at center left, three figures sit in a long shallow rowboat. In the background, low on the horizon, sunlight glints off sailboats here and there in the distance, and off buildings on a low hill rising at center right.

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
View this object's location on our interactive map

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


Recorded Ownership History
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

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

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

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Articles

Related Works

Related Media

Verification Level

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