Gifford was part of the second generation of landscape painters who followed in the path of Thomas Cole. He and his peers, such as Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, were quick to capitalize on the popular demand for paintings that depicted America’s natural splendor. Gifford was one of the foremost figures in a group that has come to be known as the “Luminists”: artists who favored panoramic horizontal formats and who sought to capture the effects of light and atmosphere that were unique to the places that they chose to paint.
Recently, a long debate about the authorship of this painting was settled when conservation work uncovered Gifford’s signature beneath that of his peer, Jasper Francis Cropsey. The finding confirmed the suspicions of an expert on Gifford’s work, who had identified a preparatory sketch by the artist for The Mint Museums’ painting. Both artists are known to have been working in the region in the 1860s and 70s, making it difficult to discern the true creator of the painting, but Cropsey tended to use much clearer, sharper colors than the soft, hazy tones that characterize Gifford’s work (and that are evident in Indian Summer). Cropsey’s signature was probably added to this painting sometime between his death in 1900 and the 1920s, when it probably entered into the collection of the family that donated it to the Museum: a period when Cropsey appears to have been held in higher regard than his Luminist peer Gifford.
Bequest of Miss Elizabeth Boyd.
Accession Number: 1945.3