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A Coming Storm

Sanford Gifford, American, 1823-1880

Geography:
Made in United States, North and Central America

Date:
1863, retouched and redated in 1880

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
28 x 42 inches (71.1 x 106.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 116, American Art, first floor

Accession Number:
2004-115-1

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of the McNeil Americana Collection, 2004

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Label:

Painted in the midst of the Civil War, Sanford Gifford's A Coming Storm was first owned by celebrated Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth, brother of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. When the great American writer Herman Melville saw the painting at an exhibition in New York City just after Lincoln's death in April 1865, he was struck by the work's symbolism and wrote a poem about its tragic prescience that includes:

A demon-cloud like the mountain one
Burst on a spirit as mild
As this urned lake, the home of shades.

Gifford, who served in the Union Army himself, was keenly interested in the dramatic effects of weather and light, shown here along the banks of Lake George in upstate New York.


* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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