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Today we are elated to offer for sale a rare and beautiful antique signed original Robert Swain Gifford oil painting, of the greatest painters in New England, with pieces in the permanent collections of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC. A bit of info about Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905):
“Robert Swain Gifford received his first instruction in drawing during the late 1850s from Albert van Beest and William Bradford at New Bedford, Massachusetts. Later, Walton Richetson, a New Bedford sculptor, shared his studio with Gifford. In 1864 Gifford opened a studio in Boston, but in 1866 settled in New York City. One year later, he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design and was made a full academician in 1878. In 1869 he sketched in Washington, Oregon, and California, and in 1870 made an extensive trip abroad, visiting England, France, Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Egypt. Four years later, he made a similar journey that included Corsica, Algeria, and parts of North Africa seldom visited by tourists. About ten years later, he returned for a third visit to the Middle East.
After this, Gifford divided his time between his New York studio and his summer home at Nonquitt, Massachusetts, with the exception of a three month voyage to Alaska in 1899 with a scientific party led by E. H. Harriman. Beginning in 1877 and for nearly thirty years thereafter, he taught art classes at the Cooper Union School in New York. Gifford won medals at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, at the Universal Exposition of 1889 in Paris, at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, and at the Charleston Exposition of 1902. One of the earliest Americans to take up the technique of etching, Gifford helped to establish the New York Etching Club in 1877.
Born on a small New England island of Naushon under the most difficult circumstances (seven of his ten siblings died in childhood), Gifford’s early paintings, which featured dramatic seascapes with storm-tossed boats, reflected his natural respect for this subject as well as his lessons with the Dutch painter van Beest. Naushon Island is the largest of the Elizabeth Islands in southeastern Massachusetts. It is part of the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts, and owned by the Forbes family. Naushon Island was purchased by John Murray Forbes and a business associate, William W. Swain, in 1842, and Forbes purchased Swain’s share soon after to become the sole owner. During his second trip abroad in 1874, Gifford visited the art museum in Marseille, whose “fine collection of modern French paintings” may have reinforced his admiration for the Barbizon artists he had first seen in Boston several years before. Within a few years after his return, Gifford’s style was largely purged of his previously overblown romanticism, which was replaced by stark, simpler compositions, wide spacious vistas, and, most typically, a cold, somber mood drawn from the barren dunes and rugged cedars of the New England coast. The Metropolitan Museum’s Near the Coast, variants of which can be found in several other Gifford paintings and etchings, was awarded a $2,500 prize in the first Prize Fund Exhibition held at the American Art Gallery in 1885. In May of 1974, seventy years after his death, Gifford was given a full retrospective exhibition by the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Peter Bermingham American Art in the Barbizon Mood (Washington, D.C.: National Collection of Fine Arts and Smithsonian Institution Press, 1975) ”
This handsome and elegant oil on canvas painting is masterfully executed, expertly painted and vividly detailed with Swain Gifford’s traditional Barbizon-style and technique of painting Tonalist landscapes full of expressive facture and stark imagery, especially best and gnarled trees along the coast. The painting depicts a bucolic view of the sand dunes and landscape on Gifford’s native Naushon Island with a moody overcast sky and wind-blow tree tops. The painting features subdued and cool colors, with emphasis on atmosphere and symbolic tree forms speaking to a subjective view of nature that is once elegiac, spiritual, and metamorphic. The oil is framed in an elegant ornate coved gilt wood museum-quality frame with beaded border and protective backing board and is ready to be hung, admired, and enjoyed! The back of the frame features the original paper labels that read ” Wind Beaten Trees/Naushon Island, Mass/by R. Swain Gifford/ (??) from (??)” and “Naushon Isle/Return to Manhattan Store Ware House”. Signed on the lower right corner “R Swain Gifford”. Painting presents beautifully and is in very good antique condition, with very minor display wear and patina. Painting surface is clean and bright, with very minimal wear and crazing and no visible repairs or in painting. Frame is in very good antique condition, with very minimal wear and a couple minute losses to gilding. This is a great opportunity to own a major painting from one of New England’s most prominent and esteemed painters. A wonderful and one-of-a-kind painting that will add elegance and refined connoisseurship to any interior. A special piece for a special buyer!
Dimensions of framed artwork: 21-1/2″ in height, 33-1/2″ in length, 2-1/8″ in depth
Dimensions of canvas: 22″ in length, 10″ in height
© 2018 RI Antiques Co