Fine American amd European Paintings  - February 2015

[framed image available]

Thomas Moran
(American, born England, 1837-1926)
Sunrise at Mid-Ocean, 1907
Oil on canvas, 24 3/4 × 29 3/4 inches
Signed and dated at lower left: "TMoran 1907" {TM conjoined}

RS 6677

Thomas Moran was seven years old when his family emigrated from England. They settled first in Baltimore 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, first in watercolor and later in oil. Around 1855, Thomas decided to become a professional painter and moved into the studio of his older brother, Edward (1829–1901) who was a successful marine painter. In 1856, Thomas first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

In 1861, the two brothers journeyed to England, where they studied and traveled. Moran made several subsequent study trips to Europe, but his major travels were in the western United States.

Thomas Moran is well known for his paintings of landscapes. In the 1880s, Moran's enthusiasm for marine painting grew stronger and for some time he painted seascapes along the shores of Long Island, many of which include shipwrecks that were all too common at the time. In addition to his seascapes, Thomas Moran was in awe of sublime in nature. When he traveled to visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone he became an advent painter and promoter of the untamed west, appealing to his contemporaries and audiences with western expansion fever. Many of those looking to break away from the memories of the civil war and the industrial revolution spreading to the eastern shores found refuge in this scenic, untouched beauty of nature that Moran was able to portray through his paintbrush.

His first trip to the West, which he made in 1871 with the F. V. Hayden Survey of the Yellowstone area, introduced him to the settings that were to ensure his renown as a landscape painter. When Congress purchased his large painting of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in 1872 for ten thousand dollars, his reputation was secured. In that year, Moran moved his family to Newark, New Jersey, and in 1884, he built his studio at East Hampton, Long Island, where he lived until 1916, after which he spent winters in Santa Barbara, California. He moved permanently to Santa Barbara in 1922, and died there in 1926.

Although Moran is credited as a great documentary painter, he did not intend his paintings to be literal records of what he saw. He was committed to Romanticism, a personal spiritual vision that caused him to find inspiration in nature. Moran continued to paint through his long prolific career up until he died at the age of 89, and was recognized as the "Dean of American Painters."



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