SOLD Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, 1860

by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880)
Oil on canvas
11 15/16 x 23⅛ inches
Signed and dated lower right: S.R.Gifford. 1860.


The artist

Samuel Hallett, acquired from above, 1861

June Hallett Richdale Smoot, by descent from above

Estate of above

Sale, Everything But the House, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 8, 2019, from above

Private collection, Georgia, acquired from above

Sale, Christie’s, New York, New York, May 18, 2021, lot 228, from above


John F. Weir, A Memorial Catalogue of the Paintings of Sanford Robinson Gifford, N.A. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1881), 23, no. 231 (as Lake Sinapee).

Related Works

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, 1860, pencil on paper, 5 9/16 x 9 inches (sheet), inscribed and dated lower left: Lake Sunapee - Oct 3; Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire: A Study, ca. 1860–61, oil on canvas, 6 x 11 inches, initialed and dated lower left: SRG [illegible]; signed on verso; Private collection

Lake Sunapee, Oil, 8 x 15½ inches; Private collection

Note: As a result of a new railroad line and availability of commercial boats, Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire became a popular vacation destination for Northeasterners in the late 19th century. Gifford visited the area circa 1858–59. This painting, and the related pencil drawing and smaller oils, likely developed from a different idea for a New Hampshire painting based on an earlier set of detailed [now lost] sketches of Lake Sunapee. The related drawing appears in a sketchbook from 1860, adjacent to drawings from early October 1860 of Hudson Highlands, where Gifford traveled at that time; it was likely when that 1860 trip was cut short due to bad weather that Gifford looked at the earlier [now lost] sketches of Lake Sunapee and created the new sketch, and probably inspired what would become the present colorful depiction of Lake Sunapee. Perhaps Gifford revisited the Lake Sunapee subject matter in 1860 because at that time he was working on commissions for the railroad banker and developer Samuel Hallett (1827–1864). Hallett purchased this work directly from Gifford in 1861.

Scholar Ila Weiss vividly describes Gifford’s mastery of light, color, and atmosphere in this work, saying: “The texture of the canvas is harnessed to hold both a transparent pink glaze, the material equivalent of tinted air, and the pale blue of the sky in iridescent adjacency: the colors mix optically while read, paradoxically, independently. These are inimitable hallmarks of Gifford’s style in this period.”[1]

[1] Ila Weiss, unpublished letter, April 26, 2021.

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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