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Thomas Moran (1837-1926) | Luminist painter


Thomas Moran was born 12 February 1837 in Bolton, England, not far from Manchester, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
Several generations of the Moran family had worked as handloom weavers in Bolton until the introduction of power looms radically changed the industry.
In 1842/1843, seeking public education for his children and economic opportunity in a new land, Thomas Moran, Sr., journeyed to America.


The following year his wife and children joined him and the reunited family settled in Kensington, a suburb of Philadelphia, where they became part of a well-established community of immigrant textile workers.
While still a teenager Thomas became an apprentice at the Philadelphia engraving firm of Scattergood and Telfer.
After three years he withdrew from his apprenticeship and began working in the studio of his older brother, Edward, who had begun to establish himself as a marine painter.
Serving, in effect, a second apprenticeship, Moran benefitted not only from the advice of his brother but also from that of James Hamilton (1819-1878), a well-known Philadelphia painter who had befriended Edward.
Described by contemporaries as the "American Turner," Hamilton may have sparked Thomas Moran's life-long interest in the work of English artist J.M.W. Turner.


In 1861, after several years of studying Turner's work in reproduction, Thomas and Edward journeyed to London where they spent several months studying and copying Turner's work at the National Gallery.
A decade later, when Thomas journeyed west to join Ferdinand Vandiver Hayden's expedition to Yellowstone, the watercolors he produced on site bore clear evidence of his debt to Turner.
Moran's trip to Yellowstone in 1871 marked the turning point of his career. The previous year he had been asked by Scribner's Magazine to rework sketches made in Yellowstone by a member of an earlier expedition party. Intrigued by the geysers and mud pots of Yellowstone, he borrowed money to make the trip himself.
Numerous paintings and commissions resulted from this journey, but the sale of his enormous (7 by 12 feet) Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872, National Museum of American Art) to Congress shortly after passage of the bill that set Yellowstone aside as the first National Park, brought Moran considerable attention.


In 1873, following up on his earlier success, Moran joined John Wesley Powell's expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Shortly after his return he set to work on a second canvas equal in size to his earlier Yellowstone painting.
In 1874 Congress purchased Chasm of the Colorado (1873-1874, National Museum of American Art), which became the second of Moran's western landscapes to hang in the Capitol.
That same year Moran traveled to Denver and then north to see the Mountain of the Holy Cross--a massive mountain with a cross of snow on its side.


The resulting painting became Moran's chief contribution to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Iconic in its union of wilderness and religion, the Mountain of the Holy Cross became one of Moran's best known works.
His reputation established, Moran continued to travel widely during the following decades. He returned to Europe several times again following trails blazed by Turner.
In 1883 he journeyed to Mexico. In later years he returned to the Grand Canyon and traveled more extensively in Arizona and New Mexico, producing a number of striking works of the pueblos at Acoma and Laguna.
Extraordinarily productive, both as a painter and an etcher, Moran continued to work well into his eighth decade. At his death in Santa Barbara, California, in August 1926, he was memorialized as the "Dean of American Landscape Painters". | © National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC









Thomas Moran (Bolton, 12 febbraio 1837 - 25 agosto 1926) è stato un pittore Statunitense, esponente della Hudson River School.
Tra i suoi dipinti la maggior parte rappresenta le montagne rocciose. È stato membro della spedizione geologica di Ferdinand Hayden del 1871 insieme al fotografo William Henry Jackson, spedizione che ha portato alla creazione del Parco Nazionale di Yellowstone. L'interpretazione di Thomas Moran dei paesaggi del vecchio West fu determinante per la creazione del Parco Nazionale di Yellowstone.
I suoi dipinti, che avevano elogiato e reso nota la grande diversità di paesaggi di Yellowstone, furono esposti al Congresso degli Stati Uniti.
Con Albert Bierstadt e Thomas Hill, è considerato uno dei più grandi cantori del vecchio west.
La casa di Thomas Moran a East Hampton è un National Historic Landmark. Il monte Moran, nel parco nazionale del Grand Teton, è intitolato a lui.
Uno dei suoi quadri, The three tetons, è esposto nello Studio Ovale alla Casa Bianca.


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