Thomas Moran

American, 1837 - 1926
Thomas Moran was seven years old when his family emigrated from England. They settled first in Baltimore and then moved to Philadelphia, where Moran was apprenticed to a wood engraver. He became proficient in this trade but was more interested in painting, first in watercolor and later in oil. Around 1855, Thomas decided to become a professional painter and moved into the studio of his older brother, Edward Moran (1829–1901) who was a successful marine painter. In 1856, Thomas first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In 1861, the two brothers journeyed to England, where they studied and traveled. Moran made several subsequent study trips to Europe, but his major travels were in the western United States. Thomas Moran is well known for his paintings of landscapes. In the 1880s, Moran's enthusiasm for marine painting grew stronger and for some time he painted seascapes along the shores of Long Island, many of which include shipwrecks that were all too common at the time. In addition to his seascapes, Thomas Moran was in awe of sublime in nature. When he traveled to visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone he became an advent painter and promoter of the untamed west, appealing to his contemporaries and audiences with western expansion fever. Many of those looking to break away from the memories of the civil war and the industrial revolution spreading to the eastern shores found refuge in this scenic, untouched beauty of nature that Moran was able to portray through his paintbrush. His first trip to the West, which he made in 1871 with the F. V. Hayden Survey of the Yellowstone area, introduced him to the settings that were to ensure his renown as a landscape painter. When Congress purchased his large painting of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in 1872 for ten thousand dollars, his reputation was secured. In that year, Moran moved his family to Newark, New Jersey, and in 1884, he built his studio at East Hampton, Long Island, where he lived until 1916, after which he spent winters in Santa Barbara, California. He moved permanently to Santa Barbara in 1922, and died there in 1926. Although Moran is credited as a great documentary painter, he did not intend his paintings to be literal records of what he saw. He was committed to Romanticism, a personal spiritual vision that caused him to find inspiration in nature. Moran continued to paint through his long prolific career up until he died at the age of 89, and was recognized as the "Dean of American Painters."
Thomas Moran Paintings 
Thomas Moran studied art with his brother Edward with which he shared a studio. Moran also traveled to London, Paris and Italy to experience more artistic influences. He was definitely the most famous of the Moran artists. During his trip to London in 1862, Moran was highly influenced by J.M.W. Turner's paintings. He returned to Europe later in 1866 where he met with the artist Corot. Moran is most well known for his panoramic oil scenes in the Far Western frontier including Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. "The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" (1872) and "Chasm of the Colorado" (1873) were both sold for $10,000 a piece. These paintings encouraged Congress to establish Yellowstone and other areas the National Park System. Moran traveled out West with W.H. Jackson on the Hayden U.S. Geological Survey of Yellowstone in 1871. In fact, Mount Moran is his namesake mountain among the Grand Tentons. Moran made many trips out west until he settled permanently in Santa Barbara, CA in 1916. His paintings reflect his ability to idealize the reality of space with rock formations, plateaus and degrees of moisture and air. Moran made his last trip West in 1923 at the age of 86, just three years before his death.

Biography courtesy of The Caldwell Gallery,
Thomas Moran was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1837. His family came to the United States when he was seven; of the seven children, three of his brothers, Edward, John and Peter, became artists of renown. Edward, his older brother, shared a studio with him and served as his teacher.

In Philadelphia, Moran worked for a wood engraver, sketching designs on wood blocks for printing and experimenting, in various media in his spare time. By age 21, Thomas Moran's determination to become an artist was rewarded by his exhibition of an oil painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In the 1850's, Moran was introduced to the work of J. M. W. Turner, the noted English landscape artist, by James Hamilton (known as "the American Turner") but Turner's full influence on Moran's work came after the European study trip, taken with his new wife, Mary Nimmo (who later became an etcher of note), and his brother, Edward, in 1862. Moran was greatly impressed with Turner, and French landscape painter, Claude Lorrain.

In 1871 Moran joined the Ferdinand V. Hayden Geological Survey Expedition to Yellowstone Territory and on seeing the magnificent grandeur of the area, his inspiration soared. In 1876, Louis Prang of Boston issued a portfolio of 15 large chromolithograph illustrations by Moran from a report of Hayden's Expedition. Moran lived in Newark, New Jersey in 1872, but New York City eventually became his base until later years. Well established by 1884, he was one of the first artists to build a summer home in East Hampton, a Long Island Resort. Figures were rarely included in his work, however, on a trip to New Mexico, he did paint Indians in their surroundings. Moran lived in Santa Barbara, CA from 1916 until his death in 1926.

Public Collections:
The Thomas Gilcreast Institute
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Milwaukee Art Center Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Museum of Art
Newark Museum
Philadelphia Museum
Smithsonian Institute

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries,
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