Sanford Robinson Gifford was born in Greenfield, New York, but moved to Hudson with his family when
he was an infant. At Hudson, he became familiar with the work of Thomas Cole, the father of Hudson River
School painting, and he may have begun his study of art as early as1840 with Henry Ary. In 1845 he moved
to New York City, where he studied drawing, perspective, and anatomy with John Reubens Smith, and he
enrolled at the National Academy of Design the following year.
Like other painters from his generation, Gifford traveled extensively, taking frequent sketching trips
in the eastern United States from the Catskill, Berkshire, and Adirondack mountains to the Rhode Island
and Massachusetts coasts to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 1855 and again in 1868, he visited Europe
for extended stays; in 1869, he traveled to Egypt and Jerusalem; and, late in his career, he traveled to
Colorado, California, and Wyoming. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment of the
New York State National Guard and was stationed in the Washington, D.C. area.
Shortly after Gifford’s death, the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched an exhibition of the artist’s
paintings and published a memorial catalogue that listed 739 of his works.