New York’s Catskill Mountains were a favorite destination among artists of the Hudson River School, a movement in painting established by Thomas Cole, which looked to the American wilderness for its inspiration and subject matter. In March of 1842, several months after returning from an extended stay in Europe, Cole wrote to the U.S. consul in Rome, proclaiming, “Must I tell you that neither the Alps nor the Apennines, no, nor even Aetna itself, have dimmed, in my eyes, the beauty of our own Catskills? It seems to me that I look on American scenery, if it were possible, with increased pleasure. It has its own peculiar charm — a something not found elsewhere.”
Many prominent American artists painted in the Catskills, focusing especially on natural monuments such as Kaaterskill Falls and Kaaterskill Clove (previously Kauterskill Clove), a deep gorge in the eastern part of the range. In September 1867, the New York painter Jervis McEntee traveled to the Catskills with his close friend, fellow artist Sanford Gifford. This painting shows a recumbent Gifford pausing to admire the impressive view of Kaaterskill Clove. Gifford was, himself, no stranger to the beauty of the locale, having painted it himself five years earlier.