Thomas Moran

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Thomas Moran
Portrait of Thomas Moran by Napoleon Sarony.jpg
Thomas Moran by Napoleon Sarony
Born(1837-02-12)February 12, 1837
DiedAugust 25, 1926(1926-08-25) (aged 89)
Santa Barbara, California, United States
Nationality American, born in England, and raised in Pennsylvania, United States
Known for Landscape painting
Movement Hudson River School, Rocky Mountain School
Spouse(s) Mary Nimmo Moran

Thomas Moran (February 12, 1837 – August 25, 1926) was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. Moran and his family, wife Mary Nimmo Moran and daughter Ruth, took residence in New York where he obtained work as an artist. He was a younger brother of the noted marine artist Edward Moran, with whom he shared a studio. A talented illustrator and exquisite colorist, Thomas Moran was hired as an illustrator at Scribner's Monthly. During the late 1860s, he was appointed the chief illustrator for the magazine, a position that helped him launch his career as one of the premier painters of the American landscape, in particular, the American West. [1]

Hudson River School American art movement

The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains; eventually works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America.

Rocky Mountains mountain range in North America

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 mi) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.

Mary Nimmo Moran Artist, engraver

Mary Nimmo Moran was an American 19th-century landscape artist specializing in etchings. She completed roughly 70 landscape etchings, which included scenes of England and Scotland, as well as Long Island, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania. In 1881, she was one of eight Americans and the first female fellow elected to London's Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. She was the wife of American artist and illustrator Thomas Moran.


Moran along with Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and William Keith are sometimes referred to as belonging to the Rocky Mountain School of landscape painters because of all of the Western landscapes made by this group. [2]

Albert Bierstadt 19th-century American landscape painter

Albert Bierstadt was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion. Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.

Thomas Hill (painter) American painter

Thomas Hill was an American artist of the 19th century. He produced many fine paintings of the California landscape, in particular of the Yosemite Valley, as well as the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

William Keith (artist) Scottish-American painter

William Keith was a Scottish-American painter famous for his California landscapes. He is associated with Tonalism and the American Barbizon school. Although most of his career was spent in California, he started out in New York, made two extended study trips to Europe, and had a studio in Boston in 1871-72 and one in New York in 1880.


Thomas Moran standing on a balcony, smoking a cigar, 1912 Moran 3037256815 4028924bce o.jpg
Thomas Moran standing on a balcony, smoking a cigar, 1912

Thomas Moran began his artistic career as a teenage apprentice to the Philadelphia wood-engraving firm Scattergood & Telfer. Moran found the engraving process "tedious" [3] and spent his free time working on his own watercolors. [4] By the mid-1850s he was drawing the firm's illustrations for publication rather than carving them. It was then that he encountered illustrated books that included examples of the work of British artist J. M. W. Turner, who was to be a lasting influence on Moran's work. [5] He also began studying with local painter James Hamilton. Moran traveled to England in 1862 to see Turner's work. From that point on, he emulated Turner's use of color, his choice of landscapes, and was inspired by his explorations in watercolor, a medium for which Turner was particularly well-known. During the 1870s and 1880s, Moran's designs for wood-engraved illustrations appeared in major magazines and gift oriented publications. Although he mastered multiple printing media including wood-engraving, etching, and lithography, which he learned from his brothers, he received renown for his paintings in oil and in watercolor. The height of his career coincided with the popularity of chromolithography, which Moran used to make color prints of his works, so that they could be widely distributed. He was also one of the leaders of the etching revival in the United States and Great Britain. [5]

J. M. W. Turner 18th and 19th-century British painter, water-colourist, and printmaker

Joseph Mallord William Turner, known as J. M. W. Turner and contemporarily as William Turner, was an English Romantic painter, printmaker and watercolourist. He is known for his expressive colourisations, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent marine paintings.

Etching intaglio printmaking technique

Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio (incised) in the metal. In modern manufacturing, other chemicals may be used on other types of material. As a method of printmaking, it is, along with engraving, the most important technique for old master prints, and remains in wide use today. In a number of modern variants such as microfabrication etching and photochemical milling it is a crucial technique in much modern technology, including circuit boards.

Lithography printing process

Lithography is a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water. The printing is from a stone or a metal plate with a smooth surface. It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. Lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or other suitable material.

Grand Canyon of the Colorado River Thomas Moran, American (born England) - Grand Canyon of the Colorado River - Google Art Project.jpg
Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

Moran was married to Scottish born Mary Nimmo Moran (1842–1899), an etcher and landscape painter. The couple had two daughters and a son. His brothers Edward (1829–1901), John (1831–1902) and Peter (1841–1914), as well as his nephews Edward Percy Moran (1862–1935) and Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930) were also active as artists. He died in Santa Barbara, California on August 25, 1926.

Edward Moran American artist

Edward Moran was an American artist of maritime paintings. He is arguably most famous for his series of 13 historical paintings of United States marine history.

Edward Percy Moran (1862–1935), sometimes known as Percy Moran, was an American artist known for his scenes of American history.

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris American painter

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris was an American painter best known for his series of 78 scenes from American history, entitled The Pageant of a Nation, the largest series of American historical paintings by a single artist.

Yellowstone images

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gallery of Thomas Moran paintings Thomas Moran - Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - Smithsonian.jpg
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gallery of Thomas Moran paintings

Thomas Moran's vision of the Western landscape was critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In 1871 Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, director of the United States Geological Survey, invited Moran, at the request of American financier Jay Cooke, to join Hayden and his expedition team into the unknown Yellowstone region. Hayden was just about to embark on his arduous journey when he received a letter from Cooke presenting Moran as "an artist of Philadelphia of rare genius". [6] Funded by Cooke (the director of the Northern Pacific Railroad), and Scribner's Monthly, a new illustrated magazine, Moran agreed to join the survey team of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 in their exploration of the Yellowstone region. During forty days in the wilderness area, Moran visually documented over 30 different sites and produced a diary of the expedition's progress and daily activities. His sketches, along with photographs produced by survey member William Henry Jackson, captured the nation's attention and helped inspire Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872. Moran's paintings along with Jackson's photographs revealed the scale and splendor of the beautiful Yellowstone region where written or oral descriptions failed, persuading President Grant and the US Congress that Yellowstone was to be preserved. Moran's impact on Yellowstone was great, but Yellowstone had a significant influence on the artist, too. His first national recognition as an artist, as well as his first large financial success, resulted from his connection with Yellowstone. He even adopted a new signature: T-Y-M, Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran. Just one year after his introduction to the area, Moran captured the imagination of the American public with his first enormous painting of a far-western natural wonder, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which the government purchased in 1872 for $10,000. [7] For the next two decades, he published his work in various periodicals and created hundreds of large paintings. Several of these, including two versions of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893–1901 and 1872) and Chasm of the Colorado (1873–74) are now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Yellowstone National Park first national park in the world, located in the US states Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden U.S geologist and surgeon

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden was an American geologist noted for his pioneering surveying expeditions of the Rocky Mountains in the late 19th century. He was also a physician who served with the Union Army during the Civil War.

United States Geological Survey scientific agency of the United States government

The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology, geography, geology, and hydrology. The USGS is a fact-finding research organization with no regulatory responsibility.

Over the next forty years Moran traveled extensively. He went back to Yellowstone with Jackson in 1892. They were invited by Elwood Mead, the state engineer of Wyoming, in preparation for a "Wyoming Exhibition" at the World's Columbian Exposition. [7] Thousands of tourists were now able to visit the park, arriving by the Northern Pacific Railway, and Moran and Jackson were able to take advantage of the tourist facilities, such as a hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs. Moran wrote "After a day at Norris we left for the Grand Canyon where we stayed two days and made a great many photos. I saw so much to sketch that I have determined to return there myself after I have been to the Geyser Basins and the lake and spend a week at work there. It is as glorious in color as ever and I was completely carried away by its magnificence. I think I can paint a better picture of it than the old one after I have made my sketches." [7] Moran sketched many more images of the Canyon on this trip than he had in 1871, including views from the viewpoint named for him on the 1871 trip, "Moran Point."

Worlds Columbian Exposition Worlds Fair held in Chicago in 1893

The World's Columbian Exposition was a world's fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival to the New World in 1492. The centerpiece of the Fair, the large water pool, represented the long voyage Columbus took to the New World. Chicago bested New York City, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis for the honor of hosting the fair. The Exposition was an influential social and cultural event and had a profound effect on architecture, sanitation, the arts, Chicago's self-image, and American industrial optimism.

Northern Pacific Railway transport company

The Northern Pacific Railway was a transcontinental railroad that operated across the northern tier of the western United States, from Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest. It was approved by Congress in 1864 and given nearly forty million acres of land grants, which it used to raise money in Europe for construction.

Mammoth Hot Springs town

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine in Yellowstone National Park adjacent to Fort Yellowstone and the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. It was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate. Because of the huge amount of geothermal vents, travertine flourishes. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy has been attributed to the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas.

Moran was elected to the membership of the National Academy of Design in 1884 and produced numerous works of art in his senior years. [8]

Painting in the White House

The Three Tetons (1895) by Thomas Moran (on the right) Barack Obama meets Shimon Peres in the Oval Office.jpg
The Three Tetons (1895) by Thomas Moran (on the right)

Thomas Moran has a painting exhibited as part of the White House collection. In the photograph depicting President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres in the Oval Office it is seen on the wall: the portrait of George Washington is between City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard (1833) by George Cooke (on the left) and The Three Tetons (1895) by Thomas Moran (on the right). Official White House photo by Pete Souza.


The Thomas Moran House in East Hampton, New York is a National Historic Landmark. [9] Mount Moran in the Grand Teton National Park is named for Moran. [10] His work is held in the collection of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, R. W. Norton Art Gallery, and the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. [11]

Selected works

See also

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  1. "The Lure of the West". University of Virginia, American Studies. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  2. Kinsey, Joni Louise (1992). Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 43–92. ISBN   1-56098-170-9.
  3. Wilkins, Thurman. Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998, p. 18-19.
  4. Wilkins, Thurman, p. 19.
  5. 1 2 Junker, Patricia (2001). An American Collection: Works from the Amon Carter Museum. Hudson Hills Press. p. 120.
  6. "Yellowstone National Park:
    Its Exploration and Establishment"
    . National Park Service. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  7. 1 2 3 Richard P. Townsend, Thomas Moran at Gilcrease – Moran and the European Tradition, Gilcrease Journal, vol. 5, no.1, Spring/Summer 1997.
  8. "Thomas Moran Gallery
    The Yellowstone National Park and the Mountain Regions
    of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah"
    . Arader Galleries. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2014-12-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Hayden Expedition". Wyoming Tales and Trails. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  11. "Thomas Moran – People – Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum".