Pardon our dust while we update this corner of the website.

A Coming Storm

Sanford Gifford, American, 1823-1880

Made in United States, North and Central America

1863, retouched and redated in 1880

Oil on canvas

28 × 42 inches (71.1 × 106.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 216, American Art, second floor (McCausland Gallery)

Accession Number:

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

Social Tags

american civil war [x]   autumn [x]   civil war [x]   edwin booth [x]   herman melville [x]   hudson river school [x]   lake george [x]   lakes [x]   storm [x]  

[Add Your Own Tags]


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.