Thomas Moran

An American painter and printmaker who was born in Bolton in England, Thomas Moran is known for his beautiful landscape paintings. He belonged to the Hudson River School in New York and often featured the Rocky Mountains in his work.

He was a very talented illustrator and also an exquisite colorist and had been hired as an illustrator at the Scribner’s Monthly. He was also appointed the chief illustrator for the magazine during the late 1860s

Thomas Moran: Green River Cliffs Wyoming
Thomas Moran: Green River Cliffs Wyoming

And this gave him the position to launch the career as one of the premier painters of the American landscape, mostly the western part of America.

He was associated with Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt, and William Keith and were together referred to as the Rocky School of Landscape because of the Western landscape that the group made.

Thomas Moran’s Early Life Biography

Thomas Moran was born on the 12th of February, 1837 in Bolton, Lancashire. He had begun his artistic career as a teenage apprentice to the firm Scattergood & Telfer from Philadelphia, which made wood engravings.

Thomas Moran Portrait
Thomas Moran

Moran would find the process of carving wood quite tedious and would use his free time on his own watercolors. He had been drawing the illustrations for the firm for publication by the mid-1850s instead of carving them.

Later Life of Thomas Moran

He had encountered the illustrated books that included the works of J.M.W. Turner and had a lasting influence on Moran’s work. He had also begun studying with local painter James Hamilton. Moran traveled to England in 1862 to exhibit Turner’s work.

Turner’s use of color was emulated by Moran and his choice of landscapes from that point. He was also inspired by his explorations in watercolor, for which Turner had gained widespread acclamations.

Thomas Moran Watercolor

Moran’s designs for wood-graved illustrations appeared in major magazines during the 1870s-80s. Although he had mastered multiple printing media

Thomas Moran Watercolor

Including the works of etching, lithography, and engraving, he was renowned for the paintings in oil and watercolor.

Thomas Moran Prints

Chromolithography was the point where he reached the height of his career, using it to make color prints of his work, making it possible to widely distribute them. He also led the etching revival in Great Britain and the United States.

Marriage, Family, and Death

Moran was married to Mary Nimmo Moran who was Scottish by birth. She was also an etcher and a landscape painter. The couple had two daughters and a son.

Moran’s brothers Edward, John and Peter and even his nephews Edward Percy Moran and Jean Leon Gerome Ferris were quite active during the time as artists. Moran died on the 25th of August, 1926 in Santa Barbara, California.

Landscape Paintings by Thomas Moran

The vision of the Western landscape by Thomas Moran was critical to the creation of the Yellowstone National Park. Moran had been invited by Dr. Ferdinand Hayden,

The director of the United States Geological Survey in 1871 at the request of the American financier Jay Cooke to join Hayden and the expedition team into the unknown Yellowstone region.

Thomas Moran: Waterfall in Yosemite
Thomas Moran: Waterfall in Yosemite

Moran was introduced by Cooke as an artist of Philadelphia of rare genius. Moran had agreed to join the survey team of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 in the exploration of the Yellowstone region.

Moran had documented about 30 different sites in the forty days of stay in the wilderness area. His sketches and the photographs that were captured by the survey member William Henry Jackson had captured the attention of the whole nation and helped to inspire the Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872.

Thomas Moran Paintings

More than the written or oral descriptions, the pictures were taken by Jackson and Moran’s paintings persuaded President Grant and the US Congress to preserve the Yellowstone. Moran even got a new signature – T-Y-M or Thomas ‘Yellowstone’ Moran and a year after the introduction to the area,

Thomas Moran Painting

Moran had captured the imagination of the American public through the first enormous painting of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Moran had traveled extensively over the next forty years, going back to the Yellowstone in 1892.

Thomas Moran Grand Canyon

Thousands of tourists were able to visit the park through the Northern Pacific Railway, with Moran and Jackson using this fact to their benefits.

During this time, Moran had sketched even more images of the Canyon than he had in the earlier trip including views from the viewpoint named after him as the ‘Moran Point’.

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