CHARLES HENRY GIFFORD1839-1904
Charles Henry Gifford, the son of a ship’s carpenter, was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Gifford grew up during the age of the whaling industry, the capital of which was New Bedford, Massachusetts. Gifford fought in the Civil War, spending time as a prisoner of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. After the war, upon his return to Massachusetts, Gifford took up painting, and in 1868 opened a studio on William Street in New Bedford. Mainly self-taught, Gifford was influenced by the numerous artists in the New Bedford area, such as Albert Bierstadt, William Bradford, and Robert Swain Gifford (no relation). The wealth that whaling brought to New Bedford meant income for the captains of industry to spend on fine art, causing artists to flock to the city. Painting in the luminist style, Gifford made a living selling his “little gems,” as he called his typical paintings. His large paintings are very rare.
Apart from one trip to London, Scotland and Ireland in 1879, Gifford continued to live mainly in the New Bedford-Fairhaven region. He painted primarily along the New England coast, including the Elizabeth Islands and Nantucket, and occasionally inland at Lake George, Niagara Falls, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After 1889, he worked primarily in watercolor.
His work has been exhibited at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Chicago Industrial Expo of 1875, William & Everett Gallery, Boston, and the B. W. Pierce Gallery in New Bedford.