(1839 - 1904)

Charles H. Gifford was born in New Bedford, MA.  He was a late second-generation Hudson River School painter.  His canvases show a distinct preference for quiet scenes in which a luminous atmosphere veils roughness, light shines with clarity and stillness is achieved by means of even brushstrokes. The luminist quality of his paintings was an effect that became a movement in art history in the late 1850’s.  This affect was obtained by painting a light or reflective undercoat that is visible through a thin or transparent outer layer.   He likened himself to John F. Kensett (1816-1872) who led the second generation to the forefront of American Painting (1850 through the 60’s).

 An important artistic development in the 1850’s was the invention of chemical pigments, which replaced the earlier mineral-based paints.  These new and brilliant colors gave Gifford more flexibility and range, especially in the effects of light.  Keeping with the philosophy of the Hudson River doctrine, being true to nature, was always at the vanguard of his pictures.

 Although the facts are somewhat sketchy, he was active in San Francisco in 1860.   It looks like he moved back to New Bedford around 1877 and painted throughout the Northeast for the remainder of his life.  His fine landscape views were published by several lithographic firms in the 1860’s, including his own, Gray & Gifford, in 1868, 1869 and 1872.


Peabody Museum, Salem

Contributed by Anonymous
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