THOMAS MORANBritish/American, 1837-1926
The “grand old man of American art,” landscape painter, etcher, and illustrator Thomas Moran was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1837. Thomas Moran, Sr. immigrated to the United States in 1842 and set up a mill near Philadelphia; his family followed in 1844. Young Thomas grew up in Philadelphia and was apprenticed as a wood engraver with the firm Scatergood and Telfer. He made his first sketches in 1853 and received his first art lessons from his brother, landscape painter Edward Moran. Thomas and Edward both exhibited paintings in 1856 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. By 1858 Thomas was working full-time as a professional artist. In 1860 he received instruction in engraving techniques from John Sartrain, and that summer Moran made his first painting trip, to Lake Superior. During the course of his long career Moran made frequent sketching trips across America: to the rivers and waterfalls of Pennsylvania; the lakes of Wisconsin; to Delaware; Florida; New York State, especially Long Island and Niagara Falls; to the mountains of the western states including California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; and many excursions into the Grand Canyon. In May of 1862 Thomas and Edward journeyed to England, where Thomas became influenced by the works of J. M. W. Turner. By 1865 Thomas and Edward had both achieved public success as artists. Many other members of Moran’s family became professional artists as well, including his brothers John and Peter, his son Paul, and his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran. In 1866 Moran took his family to Paris and while there met Corot and exhibited at the Exposition Universelle and the Paris Salon. In 1871 Moran joined F. V. Hayden’s expedition to Yellowstone. Hayden named a peak in the Tetons, “Mt. Moran” after the artist. Upon returning from Yellowstone, Moran moved to Newark, New Jersey. In 1874 he traveled up the Arkansas and Eagle Rivers to sketch the Mountain of the Holy Cross in the Colorado Rockies. He was one of the first artists to paint the natural wonders of the American west. In 1879 Moran established a studio in Booth’s Theatre Building in New York City, and in 1881 moved his residence to New York. In 1882 the Morans traveled to Scotland, England, and Wales to sketch, exhibit their work, and visit the places of their birth. The famous art and social critic John Ruskin purchased several paintings and etchings by Moran and his wife in London. In 1883 Moran visited Cuba and Mexico, and the following year built a studio-cottage in East Hampton. In 1886 and 1890 the artist painted in Germany, Antwerp, and Italy, bringing home a Venetian gondola that had belonged to the poet Robert Browning. The artist’s wife and colleague died in the fall of 1899, and Moran moved into Mrs. Stimpson’s Boarding House in New York. He made several trips back to Wales, England, and Antwerp with his daughters. Moran established a winter studio in Pasadena, California in 1916 and in 1922 he settled in Santa Barbara where he remained until his death in1926. In assessing his own art, Moran claimed to be a “truly American” artist, having presented American themes as they should be seen—through American eyes, “not according to European models or standards.” Moran held memberships in, among others: the National Academy of Design; American Watercolor Society; Society of American Etchers; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Century Club; Chautauqua Society of Fine Arts; New York Art Guild; Salmagundi; Painters of the West; and was a founding member of the American Art Association (later the Society of American Artists). His work was exhibited at, among others: the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Museum of Fine Arts; Brooklyn Art Association; the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair of 1864; Artists Fund Society; National Academy of Design; Pittsburgh Art Gallery; Rochester Academy of Art; Chicago Academy of Design; Corcoran Art Gallery; 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia; Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition; Washington Art Club; Society of American Artists; Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878; Lotos Club; Salmagundi; Royal Academy of Arts, London; American Watercolor Society; New York Etching Club; Society of Painter-Etchers, London; Century Club; Union League Club; American Exhibition, London, 1887; Art Institute of Chicago; Denver Art League; St. Louis Annual Exhibition; 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago; Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, 1901; 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco; Macbeth Gallery, New York; 1917 National Museum, Washington, D.C. “National Parks Exhibition”; and the Santa Barbara Art Club. The artist’s works are among the collections of major museums and galleries across the United States, as well as at the White House and the Capitol in Washington, D.C.