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Thomas Moran 1837 -1926
“I have always held that the grandest, most beautiful, or wonderful in nature, would, in capable hands, make the grandest, most beautiful pictures. ” Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran from Bolton, England was an American painter, etcher, illustrator, engraver, lithographer. Moran worked initially with watercolor but soon turned to oil. He exhibited his first oil in 1858 and made his first sketching trip westward in 1860, to Lake Superior. He continued his studies with local artist James Hamilton but in 1861 -62 he returned to England with brother Edward where they fell under the influence of J. M. W. Turner while copying his works. Moran went to Europe again in 1866 -67, meeting another influence, Corot, and making studies of Venice.
Thomas Moran began his artistic career as a teenage apprentice to the Philadelphia wood-engraving firm Scattergood & Telfer. Moran found the engraving process "tedious" and spent his free time working on his own watercolors. By the mid 1850 s he was drawing the firm's illustrations for publication rather than carving them and he began studying with local painter James Hamilton who introduced him to the work of British artist J. M. W. Turner.
Moran traveled to England in 1862 to see Turner's work and he often acknowledged that artist's influence on his use of color and choice of landscapes. During the 1870 s and 1880 s Moran's designs for wood-engraved illustrations appeared in major magazines and gift oriented publications.
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 nephew Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863– 1930) were also active as artists.
Thomas Moran was an artist of the Hudson River School. His vision of the Western landscape was critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. His pencil and watercolor field sketches and paintings captured the grandeur and documented the extraordinary terrain and natural features of the Yellowstone region. Thomas Moran Paintings were presented to members of Congress by park proponents. These powerful images of Yellowstone fired the imagination and helped inspire Congress to establish the National Park System in 1916. The Thomas Moran House in East Hampton, N Y is a National Historic Landmark.
After his involvement with Hayden expedition Moran began publishing his work in various periodicals and produced several large paintings, including The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872) and Chasm of the Colorado (1873 -74), which were purchased by the US Congress to hang in the U. S. Capitol (now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum).
Over the next forty years he traveled extensively. He was elected to the membership of the National Academy of Design in 1884 and produced a numerous works of art in his senior years. Mount Moran in the Grand Teton National Park is named for Moran. He died in Santa Barbara, California on August 26, 1926.