Edward Moran was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1829. He studied with Paul Weber and James Hamilton at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and later at the Royal Academy in London, and also in Paris and Italy while traveling with his brother, Thomas Moran. It was while in Europe with his brother that Moran, who had begun his career as a weaver, became impressed by English artist J. M. W. Turner’s sense of drama, his brilliantly painted skies and turbulent green seas. Moran brought this influence back to Philadelphia, where he became an established artist along with three of his brothers, creating the marine and shore scenes for which he is best known.
In 1872, Moran moved to New York City, and in the last decade of his life, he dedicated himself to a series of thirteen paintings commemorating important episodes in U.S. marine history. These paintings were widely exhibited and eventually given to the New York Public Library.
Moran was a member of the National Academy of Design, the American Watercolor Society, and the Lotus Club. Moran died in 1901. His sons, Leon and Percy were also established artists.