NEW YORK (AP) — A painting by Sanford Robinson Gifford made while he served in the Union Army could bring as much as $5 million at auction.
"Sunday Morning in the Camp of the Seventh Regiment near Washington, D.C., in May 1861" could set a new auction record for the Hudson River School artist on Dec. 5, Christie's auction house said. The presale estimate is $3 million to $5 million.
The seller is The Union League Club in New York City, which acquired it directly from the artist in 1871. It is one of four major paintings Gifford made of the Civil War as a Union soldier.
The current auction record for a Gifford work is $2.1 million, set at Christie's in 2005 for his "Fire Island Beach."
"Sunday Morning in the Camp of the Seventh Regiment" hung in the Oval Office of the White House when it was on loan there from 1976 to 1989.
The oil painting, measuring 16 inches by 30 inches, has been exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Gifford served three tours of duty in the Union Army as a member of the 8th Company of the 7th Regiment, the New York State National Guard. The regiment was among the first President Abraham Lincoln called to defend the Capitol.
The painting depicts soldiers gathered on a grassy field on the outskirts of Washington as a clergyman preaches from a podium draped with the American flag. The Capitol, the Potomac River and the unfinished Washington Monument are visible in the background.
The Union League Club is selling the work to raise funds for improvements to its landmark Park Avenue clubhouse. It was founded in 1863 to help preserve the Union. The club's contributions include helping erect the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Monument in Union Square. Members have included prominent civic, state and national leaders. Today it is a social club that focuses on public affairs.