(b Greenfield, NY, July 10, 1823; d New York, Aug 24, 1880).
American painter. Gifford belonged to the second generation of 19th-century Romantic landscape painters who resided principally in New York State, often referred to collectively as the Hudson River school. Gifford is usually grouped with the Luminists (see Luminism), a subgroup among the school who share an interest in the effects of light. Art historian Ila Weiss concludes in his monograph on the artist, however, that Gifford should properly be called an ‘Arial Luminist’ because, in contrast to the clear, crystalline lucidity of the other artists, his treatment of light is often filtered through hazy veils of moisture, which helps establish an overall tonal unity in the picture and at the same time, because of the sheer palpability of the illuminated atmosphere, creates a Romantic evocation of light as a metaphor for the divine presence in nature (see fig.).
After a few semesters of study at Brown University in Providence, RI, in his late teens, Gifford moved to New York City, where he studied drawing, perspective, and anatomy privately with English watercolourist John Rubens Smith (...