American (1823-1880)
"Lake George from Near Sabbath Day Point"
oil on canvas mounted on paperboard, unsigned, inscribed on the reverse "Sanford R. Gifford (Hudsonian School) / Present from Mrs. Robert Wilkinson (neé Cornelia Maurice) Poughkeepsie, N.Y."
10 3/4 x 14 7/8 inches

Provenance: Private Collection, Jeckell Island, Georgia; Private Collection, Cabot Vermont; Driscoll Babcock Galleries, New York, New York.

Other Notes:

Tags: Adirondacks, New York, landscape, river view, Hudson River School, 19th century

The following comments were written by Kevin Avery, Adjunct Professor of American Art History at Hunter College and former Curator of American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Though not signed or dated, the painting presented to me as "Lake Champlain" is an early work by Sanford Robinson Gifford. The picture does not appear to be recorded in the artist's exhibition records; in the catalogues of the 1880-81 Gifford Memorial exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the catalogues of the Gifford estate sale in April 1881; or in A Memorial Catalogue of the Paintings of Sanford Robinson Gifford, N.A., published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1881. Still, the painting relates in subject to at least two paintings recorded in those sources. It closely approximates the style of other Gifford paintings of the 1848-1850 period, and its imagery corresponds closely to at least one drawing, dated August 22, 1848, in an early Gifford sketchbook now in the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College.

Based on the painting's imagery, I propose the title, Lake George from near Sabbath Day Point. Across the lake at left is Black Mountain, the highest hill overlooking the water on the east shore, with Mt. Erebus, Shelving Rock, and Buck Mountain to its right. The lake and mountains are set off by a foreground of brush, rocks and a tree stump, which bear the eye to a picket fence that extends, first right, then left into the fields of the middle distance. There, at the foot of a tall cypress tree, stands a red-roofed farmhouse, along with a few other dwellings and perhaps a barn close to the lakes near shore. A stand of trees projects into the view at right, as does a forested peninsula beyond, whose form is repeated in a few islands on the lake's surface. Beyond the mountains at right, a distant fleet of pale clouds echoes the forms of the peninsula and the islands.

The painting's imagery relates closely to a drawing that Gifford inscribed, "Sabbath-Day Point, Aug. 22, 1848," in an 1847-48 sketchbook of "Marbletown, Catskills, & Lake George" subjects now in the collection of the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. In the drawing can be seen the same mountain profiles as in the painting, as well as, in the foreground, a picket fence bordering a winding road leading to the lake in the middle distance. The location of the imagery in Gifford's picture tends to be confirmed, not only by modern photographs of Sabbath Day Point and its vicinity, but also by the testimony of persons who frequent Lake George.

Both the exhibition records of the American Art-Union and the Memorial Catalogue of Gifford's work indicate that he executed, exhibited, and sold paintings (now unlocated) of Lake George subject matter in 1848 and 1849. The facture of Lake George from near Sabbath Day Point compares closely to contemporaneous paintings securely attributed to the artist, such as the Landscape with River (Scene in Northern New York) (1849; New-York Historical Society), and the recently discovered West Branch of the Delaware River (1851; currently Questroyal Fine Art, New York). All these pictures reflect Gifford's early, somewhat prosaic rendering of scenery, conventional landscape coloration (generally brown and green in the foreground, pale blue in the background), and youthful brushwork. Only a few years several years later would he advance to the highly atmospheric, chromatic and technically fluent style that marked his maturity.

Note: According to the owner, attached to the verso of the backing of this painting was an index card, now removed. The card appears yellowed with age and is inscribed in an unknown hand. It records the artist's full name, his National Academy credentials, his birth and death dates, and paraphrases the title, partial authorship, and publication information of A Memorial Catalogue of the Paintings of the Sanford Robinson Gifford, N.A., cited above. On the right of the card, a separate inscription (in the same hand), evidently referring to the artist, reads: "was the brother of / the mother of the / late Mr. Robert / Wilkinson in / Poughkeepsie, N. Y. / (Mrs. Robert Wilkinson / is Cordelia[sic], née Maurice.[)]" Cornelia Maurice Wilkinson (1876-1949) was married to Robert Wilkinson, Jr. (1876-1934) His mother was Julia Gifford Wilkinson (1838-1937), one of the artist's sisters, married to Robert Wilkinson (1843-1903). One can only speculate that the present picture-and possibly the other brought to me for authentication (lot 40)-first belonged to Julia, who may have received both paintings directly from her brother before his death and the subsequent assembling of his remaining pictures for the Gifford estate sale in 1881. Neither of the two paintings brought to me can be readily linked with any titles in the sale, nor with any titles in the Memorial Catalogue. The current owner reportedly received the paintings from his parents, who received them from Mrs. Robert Wilkinson, Jr. (née Cornelia Maurice), with whom they were good friends.

  • Condition: Canvas: Not Applicable
    Condition: Very Good
    Restoration: Very Minor
    Frame: Period
    Scattered dots of inpaint mostly to sky

    Framed dimensions - 16 1/4 x 20 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches

    In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation.


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