The Metropolitan Museum of Art LogoEmail

Type the CAPTCHA word:

How Did He Paint That?

Lawrence, Former High School Intern

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sanford Robinson Gifford's A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove)

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880). A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove), 1862. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Maria DeWitt Jesup, from the collection of her husband, Morris K. Jesup, 1914 (15.30.62)

«There are a handful of paintings at the Met that made a huge impression on me when I first saw them. Two of them are Sanford Robinson Gifford's A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove) and Frederic Edwin Church's The Aegean Sea. Every time I see these paintings, I ask myself, "How did he paint that?!"»

I'm amazed by the sunlight in A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove), and I wonder how Gifford made it seem so realistic. How did he paint the sun reflecting off the trees and still capture all their details?

When I look at The Aegean Sea, I wonder how Church painted those two majestic rainbows. The arcs are perfectly parallel, and the colors are exquisite; they seem to pop out and complement the colors of the trees, rocks, and water.

Frederic Edwin Church's The Aegean Sea

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). The Aegean Sea, ca. 1877. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Mrs. William H. Osborn, 1902 (02.23)

What works of art at the Met make you wonder how they were created?


  • Tom Furgas says:

    I myself often wonder how many works are created, or crafted. Especially sculptural works or metal works. But although I have studied painting and drawing I am still at a loss how some amazing effects are achieved. I think this is a secret that the greatest artists share with very few others, even students.

    Posted: January 1, 2014, 12:48 p.m.

  • Ted Gallagher says:

    See the Met's "Moonlight, Strandgade 30" by the Dane painter Vilhelm Hammershøi [Accession Number: 2012.203].
    How did he distinguish between daylight and moonlight, projected on an interior scene?
    Can't you just feel the chill air?
    How did he paint that?

    Posted: January 3, 2014, 5:09 p.m.

Post a Comment

We welcome your participation! Please note that while lively discussion and strong opinions are encouraged, the Museum reserves the right to delete comments that it deems inappropriate for any reason. Comments are moderated and publication times may vary.

*Required fields

Follow This Blog: Subscribe

About the Author

Lawrence was formerly an intern with the Museum's High School Internship Program.

About this Blog

This blog, written by the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and occasional guest authors, is a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.