Thomas Moran USA

2-12-1837 Bolton, ENG – 8-25-1926 Santa Barbara, USA

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Moran, Thomas

Thomas 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.

Thomas Moran began his artistic career as a teenage apprentice to the Philadelphia wood-engraving firm. Moran found the engraving process "tedious" and spent his free time working on his own watercolors. 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.

Thomas Moran was married to Scottish born Mary Nimmo Moran, an etcher and landscape painter. The couple had two daughters and a son. His brothers Edward, John and Peter, as well as his nephews Edward Percy Moran and Jean Leon Gerome Ferris were also active as artists.

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, to join his expedition team into the unknown 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 impact on Yellowstone was great, but Yellowstone had a significant influence on the artist, too. In 1882, after returning from a trip to Europe, Thomas Moran embarked upon another journey, this time to Mexico, which would result in a new inspirational subject for his oil paintings.

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, Thomas 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. 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. Thomas Moran has a painting exhibited as part of the White House collection.

Art Movement: Hudson River School
Influences: J.M.W.Turner, James Hamilton
Traveled: England, Mexico, Scotland, Italy
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