Sanford Robinson Gifford was born in Greenfield, New York, on 10 July 1823. The son of a prosperous foundry owner, he spent his boyhood in Hudson, New York. Between 1842 and 1844 he attended the Brown University. In 1845 he settled in New York City where he studied drawing, perspective and anatomy under John Rubens Smith. In 1846, he made a study trip to Catskills which first turned his attention to landscape painting. In 1847 he exhibited his first paintings at the National Academy of Design which led to his election first as an Associate (1851) and later as an Academician (1854). Between 1855 and 1857 Gifford journeyed throughout Europe, occasionally accompanied by T. W. Whittredge and Albert Bierstadt. After his return to New York, he made a series of annual summer excursions to New England and upstate New York aimed at sketching and fishing. Between 1861 and 1865 he served in the Seventh New York Regiment in Civil War. Three years later, between 1868 and 1869 he made a second trip overseas and visited Italy, Egypt, Greece and the Near East. In 1870 he travelled to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with Whittredge and John F. Kensett and explored the Wyoming Territory with F. V. Hayden on a US Geological and Geographic Survey. In 1874 Gifford made a second trip to Western USA and British Columbia. He died in New York City on 29 August 1880. A memorial exhibition of his paintings was held that same year at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Katherine E. Manthorne