Thomas Moran

(American born England, 1837 - 1926)

Thomas Moran was seven years old when his family emigrated from England to the United States. They settled first in Baltimore, Maryland, 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. Around 1855 he decided to become a professional artist and began to work in the studio of his older brother, the noted marine painter Edward Moran (1829 1901). Thomas Moran exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in for the first time in 1856. During this period, the Philadelphia marine painter James Hamilton (1819-1878) introduced the Morans to the work of the English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), whose landscapes and seascapes had a profound and lifelong influence on both artists. The two brothers journeyed to England in 1861, where Thomas paid particular attention to Turner’s early, topographical watercolors in the National Gallery, and familiarized himself with the aesthetic ideas of John Ruskin, who championed Turner’s work and encouraged artists to use strong, clear colors, and emphasized careful drawing and fidelity to nature. After returning from England in 1862, Thomas Moran married the artist Mary Nimmo (1842-1889), and the couple traveled widely in Europe in 1866 and 1867. Moran was increasingly attracted to the dramatic scenery of the western United States, where he went in 1871 with the F. V. Hayden Survey of the Yellowstone area. When Congress purchased his large painting Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in 1872 for ten thousand dollars, his reputation was secure. He later settled in New York, and in 1884 Moran was among the first of many artists to build a house and studio in East Hampton, Long Island. After 1916 Moran spent winters in Santa Barbara, California, and in 1922 he moved there permanently.