Wednesday Art ATTACK- Thomas Moran "The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone"

By Christian Franzen

Thomas Moran was born in Bolton England on February 12, 1837 to an American family. His family moved back to the United States in the early 1840's and settled in Philadelphia. When he was only a teenager he began an apprenticeship making wood-engravings. During his apprenticeship he grew tired of engraving so he spent more of his time dabbling in watercolor painting . In the mid 1850's he began illustrating for Scattergood and Telfer which just so happened to be one of the companies which he was previously engraving for. 

At this point Moran became a full time painter and began to study with local American painter James Hamilton. While in the tutelage of Hamilton, Moran was exposed to the British painter J. M. W. Turner and in 1862 he traveled to England to see Turner's work. Moran acknowledges that seeing Turner's work had an immense impact on his paintings in regards to composition and color. 

In 1871 Moran was asked to accompany the United States Geological Survey Team into the relatively unknown Yellowstone region. During there 40 day expedition visually documented more than 30 areas and kept a sketch book detailing the expeditions progress. Moran's paintings and sketches along with photographs from the expedition helped convince the United States Congress to establish the Yellowstone territory as the nations first National Park in 1872.

The time he spent in Yellowstone had a tremendous impact on Moran as an artist and he returned to the area shortly after to paint the landscapes of the area. This resulted in his first large financial success when the United States Government The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in 1872 for $10,000. Moran remained a devoted landscape painter and traveled around the United States painting for the majority of his life, but always revisited Yellowstone for several months out of each year. He died in August of 1926 in Santa Barbara, California.

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