Sanford R. Gifford, 1866
This serene vista was likely painted at Lake Champlain from the Vermont side looking west toward New York. The dense forest bordering the lake contrasts with the empty foreground, dotted by several tree stumps cut by man. In place of a contemplative figure communing with nature, there are two people establishing a property line with a wall fashioned from stone and logs. Clearing the land marked the beginning of the threat to the unspoiled wilderness ideal extolled in the paintings by the Hudson River School artists. A member of the Hudson River School of American landscape painting, Gifford was one of the few artists who actively participated in the Civil War, serving in New York’s 7th Regiment. His serene rendition of tree stumps, a stone wall, and the figures of a man and a woman allude to the peaceful rebuilding of a nation after the violence and disruption of war.