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collections > permanent collection > paintings >THOMAS MORAN
Thomas Moran
(American, b. England, 1837-1926)
Untitled (Marine Landscape), n.d., c. 1900
Watercolor on paper, 7 1/4" x 14 1/2"
Gift of the Frank and Margaret Sullivan Fund


Thomas Moran was a versatile landscapist who ranged from the Grand Canyon of Arizona to the Grand Canal of Venice.  In his work, he combined the breadth of the Hudson River School with the atmospheric drama of English master J.M.W. Turner, who he greatly admired.  In the Museum’s untitled marine, Moran’s considerable skill as a watercolorist is reflected in his careful control of wet-on-wet passages.  Exploiting the particular strengths of the watercolor medium, Moran effectively portrays the exhilarating chill of the windswept coast, from the soft gray contours of the clouds above to the luminous burst of seaspray in the lower right.  Circling gulls contribute further to the swirling energy of the scene, and serve to lead the viewer’s eye beyond the surf and into the depths of the composition itself.


Born in England, Moran immigrated with his family to Philadelphia, where he studied art alongside his older brother, Edward, and with James Hamilton, a noted painter of land- and seascapes.  During much of the 1860s, Moran established himself in Philadelphia art circles, teaching and working as an illustrator.  In 1871, the artist traveled with explorer Ferdinand V. Hayden to the Yellowstone region.  His paintings of the region’s scenic wonders captured the public’s attention, and by the middle of the decade, he rivaled Albert Bierstadt as the leading painter of the Far West.  In addition to Yellowstone, Moran also painted Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Colorado, and the Sierra Nevadas.  Later Moran began making regular trips to Europe, and following in Turner’s footsteps, he painted numerous images of Venice and its monuments.  These paintings were well-received, and helped carry Moran’s reputation into the twentieth century.  The artist’s last years were spent in California, where he died in 1926.