Massachusetts, 1839-1904

Luminist view of three sailboats in a quiet coastal inlet below looming cliffs, possibly Grand Manan, New Brunswick.

Rocky shorelines on both sides, the right with a small village and the left with a remote lighthouse. Figures visible working the two boats in the foreground. Sunlight filters through the cloud-filled sky and casts sparkling reflections across the calm water. Signed lower right "C.H. Gifford".
Oil on canvas, 9.25" x 14.25". Framed 16" x 21".
Condition: Overall very good condition: slight craquelure, and a UV light inspection reveals two small areas of paint restoration on the left side in the water, otherwise excellent.

The absence of a condition report does not imply an object is free of defects. All items may have normal signs of age and wear commensurate with their age; these issues will likely not be mentioned in the condition report. Please contact Eldred's before the auction with any condition questions. Questions about condition will not be answered after purchase. Condition reports are provided as a courtesy, and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Important note on frames: Frames are not guaranteed to be in the same condition as they are in the item photograph. Due to handling and shipping, many frames, especially antique ones, are prone to losses. If you have questions about the condition of a frame, please contact us prior to the auction. 

  • Provenance:
    The Property of a Gentleman: The Estate of Peter Goldstein.

    Charles Henry Gifford was born in the Massachusetts coastal village of Fairhaven. Although fascinated by art at an early age, his eventual career was delayed by his father's desire for him to learn a trade, as well as to serve in the Civil War. After the end of his enlistment, which included a month as a prisoner of war in Virginia's infamous Libby Prison, Gifford would return to Fairhaven and dedicate his life to the pursuit of his art.

    At the time of his return, the neighboring city of New Bedford was not only a busy whaling port, but also a resplendent artistic community where some of the best artists of the day maintained studios or consistently showed their works. Included in the group were leading marine artists Alfred Van Beest and William Bradford, but it was the famed luminist landscape painter Alfred Bierstadt who made the strongest impression on young Gifford.

    By the late 1860s Gifford had become an established and successful New Bedford marine artist, specializing in what he would later call his "little gems", small detailed coastal views. By the 1870s Gifford's career was firmly established. The later half of the decade saw Gifford executing a series of larger luminous works that rivaled the best of William Bradford, Fitz H. Lane and his childhood icon, Bierstadt.

    The composition here exhibits the calm intimacy and richly diffused light that define the Luminist School, but Gifford juxtaposes that with the majesty of the towering, formidable cliffs, the bustling village in the distance and the figures laboring on the boats, punctuated by one sailor wearing a bright red jacket, to create a captivating sense of tension and intrigue.

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February 28, 2024 9:30 AM EST
East Dennis, MA, US


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