SOLD A Souvenir of the Catskills, 1867

by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880)
Oil on board
7 15/16 x 9⅜ inches
Initialed and dated lower left: S R G ‘67; on verso: For Miss Buck – / A Souvenir of the Catskills –




The artist

Miss Buck, gift from above

Vivian Shand, by 1978

Sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, New York, April 28, 1978, lot 579, from above (as Souvenir of the Catskills (Kauterskill Clove))

Alexander Gallery, New York, New York, acquired from above

Private collection, acquired from above

Private collection, New York, New York, by descent from above, ca. 1995–2003

Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York

Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, New York, acquired from above, 2005

Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, New York, New York, acquired from above, 2005

Private collection, Riverside, Connecticut, acquired from above, 2006

Sale, Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas, November 5, 2021, lot 67075, from above

Related Works 

A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove), 1862, oil on canvas, 48 x 39⅞ inches, signed and dated lower left: SR Gifford / 1862; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

A Sketch in Kauterskill Clove, ca. 1861, oil on canvas, 13 x 11 inches, signed and dated lower left: SR Gifford 1861; Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kauterskill Clove, Catskill Mountains, 1880, oil on canvas, 13¼ x 10⅝ inches; The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Note: According to scholar Ila Weiss:

This is an imagined view of one of Gifford’s favorite subjects, a stretched panorama of the northern Catskills ravine that climbs about 1500 feet from Palenville to Haine’s Falls, a distance of about 5 miles…[with] Haines falls at the head of the Clove, as seen from the ledge of Sunset Rock on South Mountain, its north flank, with Kaaterskill Falls further west on that flank, invisible from Sunset Rock.[1]

Gifford painted at Kaaterskill Clove almost every year, often in the autumn, which was accessible from his home in Hudson, New York. His practice inspired other artists to paint the site and tourists to visit it. Around the mid-nineteenth century, Gifford extended an invitation to other artist’s wives and sisters to join the men working there, which prompted so many vacationers that the artists went from staying at Scribner’s Mill House on Lake Creek to Laurel House near the brink of Kaaterskill Falls.[2]

Certain compositional elements of the present work make it an homage to Laurel House and the artists painting from there. Unlike his other depictions of this view which show Haines Falls in the distance but never Kaaterskill Falls, this work includes water gushing from the falls, along with the white structure of Laurel House above the mountainside. Instead of depicting the foreground rocks and trees with tonal contrast to underscore the luminous distance as in other paintings, in this painting those rocks fade into the darkened hillside at left and instead contrast with the brighter falls and Laurel House in the middle-ground.[3]

A pencil drawing of an umbrella is visible on the reverse, alongside the inscription to Miss Buck, who Ila Weiss believes to have been a member of the artist’s entourage, perhaps an artist too. To Weiss, the umbrella – an item often present while painting en plein air – is its own souvenir from the Catskills, and could symbolize Gifford himself, or Miss Buck, who, as the recipient of such a generous gift, may have been a “more than casual acquaintance.”[4]

[1] Ila Weiss letter, September 2021 [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid.

Artist Biography

Prominent Luminist Hudson River School painter

By Amy Spencer

Defining the salient characteristics of the second-generation Hudson River School, Sanford R. Gifford’s luminist style effectively evoked both the subtle and dramatic effects epitomized by landscape painting in nineteenth-century America.

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Notes
VII. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

The second-generation Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford was a master at depicting light and atmosphere in landscapes. As the only painter among his contemporaries to be born and grow up

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