Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880)

Morning in the Hudson, Haverstraw Bay, 1866

Oil on canvas, 14 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. (36.2 x 76.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1993.11

The most representative feature of Gifford’s landscapes is the unifying effect of glowing natural light. Morning in the Hudson, Haverstraw Bay is one of his many images of this stretch of the river just north of New York City, an area that was both his birthplace and the original site of America’s first native landscape painting movement, the Hudson River school. From a vantage point diagonally northwest across the river at its widest point, the view focuses on High Tor, a mountain towering eight hundred feet above the water. The numerous boats gliding along the river are visual counterpoints to the still perfection of the luminous water and sky, and hint at the Hudson’s role as one of the nation’s most vital avenues of transportation. A tranquil scene bathed in a diffused, cool morning light, it exemplifies Gifford’s assertion that “landscape painting is air painting.”

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.