Skip to main content

Sanford Robinson Gifford papers, 1840s-1900, circa 1960s-1970s, bulk 1855-1881

Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 1823-1880


The papers of Sanford Robinson Gifford in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 850 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 0.9 linear feet

Summary: The small collection measures 0.9 linear feet is comprised of scattered documentation of Gifford's life, primarily extensive biographical accounts of his travels in the mid 1850s and late 1860s in the form of bound letters to his father. These serve as detailed journals of his impressions of Europe and the Middle East, the development of his painting, and his relationships with other artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge. The collection also contains sketches by Gifford, printed material including catalogs of Gifford's paintings, and photographs of Gifford and others.
Additional records provide scattered documenation of other periods of Gifford's life. Letters refer to his travels in the American west and his Civil War service and its effect on his painting. Printed material includes clippings and exhibition catalogs, and includes a catalogue of his paintings published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1881. Artwork by Gifford includes sketches by the artist and prints, engravings and paintings by various others. Photographs include images of Gifford during the Civil War and several copyprints from orginal photographs taken in the 1860s and 1870s for which the Archives does not own the originals, including two images of a family home in Hudson, New York, where Gifford had a studio in the mid 1860s, an image of Gifford on the Hayden expedition in 1870, and a portrait photograph.

Biographical/Historical Note

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) was a painter from N.Y. Born Greenfield, N.Y. Studied at the National Academy of Design, New York. Elected National Academician, 1854. Studied in Paris and Rome, 1855-57; traveled in Italy, Greece, Syria, Egypt, Great Britain, the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. A Hudson River school artist.


Donated 1955 and 1957 by by Edith Wilkinson and in 1973 by George and Frances Gifford Cummings. Copyprints of photographs were donated in 1964 by James C. Gifford. Five sketchbooks on reel D254 were lent for microfilming by the Vassar College Art Library in 1966, and in 1974 sixteen sketchbooks, photographs, and other materials on microfilm reel 688 were lent for microfilming by Dr. Sanford Gifford, Gifford's great-nephew.

Related Materials

Sixteen sketchbooks, photographs, passports and certificates, an 1888 European travel diary of Mary Louise Willard, wife of Gifford's nephew, Harold, and a 1966 letter were loaned by Dr. Sanford Gifford in 1974 and were returned to the donor after microfilming on reel 688.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.