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Identity Theft: How a Cropsey Became a Gifford

Identity Theft: How a Cropsey Became a Gifford

November 21, 2009 - March 27, 2010

Mint Museum of Art



Sanford Robinson Gifford, Indian Summer in the White Mountains, ca. 1862

(formerly attributed to Jasper Francis Cropsey)

Bequest of Miss Elizabeth Boyd



Identity Theft centers around what is perhaps The Mint  Museum’s most important Hudson River School painting, Sanford Robinson Gifford’s Indian Summer in the White Mountains, which was for many years attributed to Jasper Francis Cropsey and titled Mount Washington from Lake Sebago, Maine. Although long questioned by Gifford scholar Ila Weiss, Indian Summer in the White Mountains remained attributed to Cropsey based on the apparently original signature and date in the lower left corner of the painting. However, recent conservation work revealed a Gifford signature and a new date beneath Cropsey’s. Identity Theft will illuminate the process through which the museum’s painting was reattributed, highlighting fascinating issues that are not typically the focus of a special exhibition: issues such as connoisseurship, conservation, provenance, archival research, and the art market. 


Visitors will be able to make side-by-side comparisons of the Mint’s painting with three other depictions of Mount Washington by Cropsey and three by Gifford, allowing them to compare each artist’s style and technique firsthand. Early examples of both Cropsey and Gifford’s work, in which each artist began to formulate his own distinctive style, will also be on view, as will sketchbooks by Gifford in which he worked out the basic compositional elements for his paintings of Mount Washington. Visitors will also be able to view documents selected from the museum’s archives that document the history of the scholarship on its painting. 


Great Press!


Sanford Robinson Gifford (July 10, 1823 - August 29, 1880)

Sanford Robinson Gifford was an American landscape painter and a leading members of the Hudson River School. His landscapes are known for their emphasis on light and soft atmospheric effects. He is regarded as a follower of Luminism, an offshoot style of the Hudson River School.

  • Hudson River School Vision: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford - information on the Gifford retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes links to more information about the artist and the Hudson River School 
  • Sanford Robinson Gifford pages - a digitized collection from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art containing around 130 items that provide scattered documentation of Gifford's life - includes extensive biographical accounts of his travels in the mid 1850s and late 1860s in the form of bound letters to his father.


Jasper Francis Cropsey (February 18, 1823 - April 23, 1900)

Jasper Francis Cropsey was also an American landscape artist of the Hudson River School who enjoyed fame in both England and the United States for his views of American scenery, particularly his richly colored canvases capturing the beauty of the American autumn.

  • Newington-Cropsey Foundation - preserves and displays the home and artwork of Jasper F. Cropsey - includes a biography, images of works, list of available publications and links to exhibitions of his work at several museums 

  • Images of his works


Selected print resources available in The Mint Museum Library are listed below. For more, search MARCO: The Mint Art Research Catalog Online 

  •  Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 1823-1880. Hudson River School Visions : The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.

  •  Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 1823-1880. Sanford Robinson Gifford, 1823-1880. Austin: University of Texas Art Museum, [1970?].

  • Weiss, Ila, 1939-. Poetic Landscape : The Art and Experience of Sanford R. Gifford. Newark : University of Delaware Press, c1987.

  • Talbot, William S. Jasper F. Cropsey, 1823-1900. Washington : Published for the National Collection of Fine Arts by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1970. 




Created by Rebecca Stockin, Volunteer for the Mint Museum Library