All posts in “Beauty & Bounty”

Object of the Week: Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma—Puget Sound

How great is SAM’s painting by Sanford Robinson Gifford of Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma—Puget Sound?

Consider:

1. It’s been made into a cake. In 1990, when the museum acquired the painting, we celebrated its arrival with a cake that sported a frosting facsimile.

It's a cake with a painting on it!

2. It features “the original Tacoma Dome.” In 2011, SAM’s awesome marketing team (still awesome, by the way) produced a pithy billboard with a reproduction of the Gifford painting, beckoning Seattleites to come see the Beauty and Bounty exhibition in which it starred that summer.

"The Original Tacoma Dome" billboard

3. Its artistic merits, of course. Gifford had an immaculate sense for atmospheric light and color that gave rise, in later scholarship, to the very appropriate term luminism.

4. The vision it provides of life in the Puget Sound at a time when natives lived here in harmony with the land.

Here’s the story. Gifford traveled to the Washington Territory in the summer of 1874, and he was clearly moved by the imposing view of Mount Rainier from Commencement Bay in Tacoma. He sketched out several different compositions in pencil from various vantage points across the bay. We even know the day when he produced the drawing that inspired this painting: September 1. Later, in the winter of 1875, he worked up the full painting in his New York studio.

You can see Gifford's pencil lines demarcating the horizon line and dome of Rainier due to a thin paint layer that has become even more transparent with age.

You can see Gifford’s pencil lines demarcating the horizon line and dome of Rainier, due to a thin paint layer that has become even more transparent with age.

Gifford, like his rough contemporary Albert Bierstadt, excelled in producing romantic visions of the West that appealed to East Coast and, increasingly, international audiences, for whom the rugged terrain and the different lifestyle of the natives here carried the appeal of the exotic. Gifford’s Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma—Puget Sound is a romanticized view: He would have seen more evidence of the lumber industry beginning to transform the landscape around the time he visited. Still, the artist communicates a sense of awe and discovery that seems entirely genuine. His painting helps me see the true beauty of Mt. Rainier and the diverse landscape of Puget Sound with fresh eyes and a greater sense of appreciation. Gifford reminds us that in the Pacific Northwest, as much as anywhere, we have an abundance of natural beauty for which to be thankful, that we might appreciate it, enjoy it, and always aim to take good care of it.

—Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

Images:  Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma—Puget Sound, 1875, Sanford Robinson Gifford (American, born Greenfield, N.Y. 1823; died New York City 1880), oil on canvas, 21 x 40 in. Seattle Art Museum, Partial and promised gift of Ann and Tom Barwick and gift, by exchange, of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin; Max R. Schweitzer; Hickman Price, Jr., in memory of Hickman Price; Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; Mr. and Mrs. Norman Hirschl; and the Estate of Louise Raymond Owens, 90.29, Paul Macapia. Photo: SAM Archive. Photo: SAM Archive. Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma—Puget Sound (detail).
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Winning entry in Seattle Art Museum's Beauty Shot Fridays photo contest by Atsuko Nagakura

Beauty Shot Fridays: “Green” Winner and Our Final Question

We have really enjoyed the Beauty Shot Fridays project that we put together to give people an opportunity to respond to the themes in our Beauty & Bounty and Reclaimed exhibitions.

Last week we asked, “What does ‘green’ mean to you?” and offered two tickets to Beauty & Bounty to the photographer behind our favorite photo.

SAM staff member Liz Stone selected the winner. Liz is a digital media assistant and a member of the SAM Goes Green Team. Of the winning entry she said, “I like this photo for its simple act of gratitude. Green means all of the things people posted here and more but I found that in almost all of the submissions this week there was a sentiment of gratitude in them. Whether it was the appreciation of a backyard wonderland, or a velvety forest full of life, to the recognition of all the possibilities Earth provides―it never hurts to take a moment―and a breath―and thank the Earth for its bounty.”

Congratulations to Atsuko Nagakura! She was the photographer behind our favorite “green” Beauty Shot. There were many great pictures to choose from. Click here to see the complete album.

Beauty & Bounty and Reclaimed close September 11 so this week’s Beauty Shot Fridays question is our final one. We want to know: How has your landscape changed?

Send your photo response to beautyshots@seattleartmuseum.org by 4 pm on Friday. Our favorite photo will win a $25 SAM gift card and a copy of Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast: A Superb Vision of Dreamland by SAM curator, Patricia Junker.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

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SAMart – GET OUT! Summer at SAM

GET OUT! It’s officially the second Summer at SAM!

From June to September, SAM Olympic Sculpture Park is full of activities for kids and adults alike, as well as brand new art experiences. Take a tour of the old and new works in the park, listen to live music, eat and drink tasty treats, participate in kids’ programming, and even take yoga, Zumba© and dance lessons. Check the Get Out! Summer at SAM website often for updated listings of great events.

Other great summer programs include:

“Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma – Puget Sound,” 1875, Sanford Robinson Gifford, born Greenfield, N.Y. 1823; died New York City 1880, oil on canvas, 21 x 40 1/2 in., Partial and promised gift of Ann and Tom Barwick and gift, by exchange, of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin; Max R. Schweitzer; Hickman Price, Jr., in memory of Hickman Price; Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; Mr. and Mrs. Norman Hirschl; and the Estate of Louise Raymond Owens, 90.29, Photo: Paul Macapia. Currently on view in “Beauty & Bounty,” special exhibition galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.
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On June 23, GiveBIG!

On June 23, The Seattle Foundation is asking people in King County to GiveBIG to local nonprofits and will match a share of every contribution made through the Seattle Foundation online Giving Center on June 23 from 7 am until midnight.

Today you have the opportunity to be part of one of the biggest days of giving in King County. Take the GiveBIG Challenge, and your gift to SAM will be stretched even further!

The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors will match a share of every contribution made through the Seattle Foundation online Giving Center on June 23 from 7 am until midnight.

Click here now to make your fully tax deductible gift to SAM! Donations at all levels are appreciated so please give $10, $50 or $100–whatever works for you. It all makes a difference! And everyone who makes a gift to SAM through GiveBIG will be entered to win two tickets to our summer exhibition, Beauty & Bounty: American Art in an Age of Exploration.

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