Monday, October 19, 2009

ARTIST OF THE MOUNTAINS




Moran standing on a balcony, smoking a cigar
Photographer: Unidentified photographer
Archives of American Art
Collection: Macbeth Gallery Records
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Grand Canyon
O'Neill Butte on the Kaibab Trail


Grand Canyon
A view from the Kaibab Trail
Parkfilms.com


Christmas card, 1883
Yellowstone NPS
Thomas Moran (1837-1926) enjoyed a lengthy, highly successful career as an artist, spanning the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. His technique varied little from his Yellowstone debut in 1871 until his death in 1926. Well regarded during his lifetime, he did not endure the steep slide into critical disfavor suffered by two of his fellow landscape painters, Frederic Church (1826-1900) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). Between 1880 and 1900, when Moran was at the height of his popularity, mainstream painting fashion had shifted from the Hudson River school style to impressionism. Yet even in his old age Moran remained an important figure at the periphery of the art world, and in his final years, he was designated-with affection-as a member of the "Old Guard," those artists who had done "their share in building up a national art."
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)


Summer Squall
Oil on canvas, 1889
24 x 36 inches (60.96 x 91.44 cm)
Private collection
blog.chosun.com


The Wilds of Lake Superior
Oil on canvas, 1864
30 x 45 inches
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain
blog.chosun.com


Forest Scene
Oil on canvas, 1870
20 x 16 inches
Private collection
blog.chosun.com


The Autumnal Woods (Under the Trees)
Oil on canvas, 1865
Private collection
blog.chosun.com


Chicago World's Fair
Watercolor on paper, 1894
The Brooklyn Museum
blog.chosun.com


Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
Oil on canvas, 1899
48 x 72 inches
Private collection
blog.chosun.com


Thomas Moran apprenticed to a Philadelphia wood engraving firm, but by 1858 at the age of twenty-one, he had exhibited an oil painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Encouraged by the marine painter, James Hamilton, Moran traveled to London in 1861, where he was deeply impressed by the dynamic effects and glowing color of J. M. W. Turner. He also visited France and Italy in 1866 to study the Old Masters, but his early American reputation was gained as an illustrator.
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)
His first journey west was as the resident artist for the U.S. Geological Survey's scientific corps accompanying Ferdinand V. Hayden's survey of Yellowstone in 1871. For 16 days, Moran sketched and William Henry Jackson photographed the most compelling features of what was to become Yellowstone National Park, from the impressive geothermal formations of geysers and hot springs to the vivid colors of the river canyon itself. Moran's watercolors and Jackson's photographs were presented to Congress as part of the successful effort to designate Yellowstone as America's first national park.
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)
Thomas Moran helped convince Teddy Roosevelt that the USA needed National Parks. Anyone who beheld one of Moran's panoramas of the Grand Canyon could see that the place needed protection. Many other artists such as John James Audubon and Ansel Adams have been instrumental in saving the picturesque and the natural. It seems that painters, more than any others, recognize the presence of sacred grounds. Going into a landscape and setting up an easel is an act of faith that just might bring further grace to the wild and beautiful. Unlike hunters and fishers, who also have a vested interest in preservation, artists take without taking. A painting made outdoors is a sacred event.
(Copyright 2009 Robert Genn)


Green River, Wyoming
Oil on canvas
Private collection


This picture (above) is one of several versions of a subject Moran associated with his first discovery of the American West. On his journey to join Hayden’s survey expedition in 1871, Moran passed through the small town of Green River and made a drawing of the cliffs.
A later visit in 1879 produced further sketches, which resulted in a large oil painting (now in a private collection) and this one. Moran used his artistic licence to great effect – eliminating the small town, increasing the depth of colour in the rocks by showing them during a glowing sunset, and adding a picturesque group of Indians.
The painting was brought to Britain in 1882 by Moran and almost immediately sold to a collector, in whose family it remained, until the museum purchased it after a huge fund-raising campaign. It was purchased in 1998 with the aid of:
The Heritage Lottery Fund; J B Gass Charitable Trust; The National Art Collections Fund; The Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery; The Pilgrim Trust; Richard Green Gallery; The Granada Foundation; The Foundation for Sport and the Arts; Pyms Gallery; Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd and many public donations.
(© Bolton Council)


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1872
Oil on canvas
Department of the Interior Museum
artchive.com


When the artist returned east in the fall, he immediately set to work on a massive painting, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, measuring 7 by 12 feet . He was still hard at work the following spring when President Grant, after intense lobbying from Hayden and representatives of the railroads, signed the bill establishing Yellowstone as America's first official national park on March 1, 1872. Hayden's report, along with Jackson's photographs and Moran's watercolor sketches, played a significant role in convincing Congress to take this action; three months later, Congress purchased Moran's completed painting for the enormous sum of $10,000.
The following year Moran made his first trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona with Major John Wesley Powell's geological survey. In 1874 he completed a massive canvas titled Chasm of the Colorado, purchased by Congress as a pendant to his Yellowstone painting. Two years later, in time for the nation's centennial, Louis Prang & Co. issued a deluxe set of chromolithographs based on fifteen of Moran's paintings of that region and other notable western sites. Included were maps locating each of Moran's images, and the complete texts of Hayden's survey report of 1871 and the bill establishing Yellowstone as a national park. With a pair of impressive paintings hanging together on Capitol Hill, and Prang's chromolithographs in circulation, Moran was widely considered the most important living landscape painter in America. Patrons requested pictures resembling those purchased by Congress in the 1870s, and the artist obliged by painting numerous versions of many of the sites he had helped make famous. Despite the large number of artists painting the American West, Moran's paintings would come to epitomize the spirit of place in America's national parks
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)


On the Berry Trail - Grand Canyon of Arizona
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Grand Canyon - Hance Trail
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grand Canyon
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grand Canyon with Rainbows
Oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Art, San Francisco
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grand Canyon
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grand Canyon
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


A Showery Day, Grand Canyon
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Yellowstone Canyon
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

In the ensuing years, Moran depicted vistas in Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and many other natural wonders. His paintings inspired the National Parks Association to maintain the chain of national parks as they appeared in Moran's paintings, says Dr. Harvey. "Even the educational material handed out in the parks, and at each landmark site, resemble the brochures, wall labels, and text panels found in art museums. Preserving the past for posterity became a central tenet of the land presentation movement; the retrospective quality of Moran's style, reminiscent of the Hudson River school of painting, preserved that vision in paint."
How did Moran manage to maintain a successful career painting in a style that had gone out of fashion before his own career had gotten solidly underway? The answer, which has proven elusive, derives from Moran's patronage and the historical circumstances of western exploration and development following the Civil War. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 changed forever the experience of going west. Travelers exchanged the hazards of the overland journey for the comfort of a Pullman car, enduring the monotony of the Great Plains for a matter of days instead of weeks, and anticipating the wonders that awaited them at their destination. Ferdinand V. Hayden's survey of Yellowstone in 1871 culminated in legislation designating the region as America's first official national park. Moran's involvement with that survey, largely at the urging of the Northern Pacific Railroad, set the tone for the remainder of his career.
Moran's ability to extrapolate the signature aspects and atmosphere of a specific place, and then arrange those features in compositions that conveyed that direct experience, lifted his paintings beyond topography. Despite their clear sense of place, Moran's subjects are never minutely detailed. His brush strokes carry painterly weight yet articulate nuances of form and structure born of acute observation and an understanding of basic geology and botany. Visitors to the sites made famous by his paintings struggled and failed to achieve the exact view, only then realizing how liberally the artist had compressed or expanded the scene in his works. That talent for conveying the spirit of a place served Moran well in Yellowstone, as he sought to render unique geological forms in a manner his audience would find authentic yet familiar.
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)
Moran's association with the exploration of the American West and the paintings that resulted from his travels created a base of support from well-to-do tourists eager to visit remote regions that he painted. He was popular with developers who planned to build hotels and resorts for travelers on the newly completed railroad lines. He was also admired and encouraged by conservation advocates who wanted to preserve the natural beauty of the West for future generations to appreciate. The interests of all of these groups converged on the desire for a National Park System to sustain a spirit of place unique to America, and Moran's paintings supplied the visual imagery that helped people agree on where those places should be. By the end of his long career, he was considered an artist who had helped create a national art for America.
Moran maintained a high degree of popularity throughout his career, even though by the 1880s the fashion of the art world had turned to a more impressionist style of painting.
(Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.)


An Arizona Sunset Near the Grand Canyon
Oil on canvas, 1898
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Thomas Moran painted An Arizona Sunset Near the Grand Canyon, based very possibly on sketches done during his second visit to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in 1892. The Santa Fe Railroad, which had begun using scenic art to promote its routes in the Southwest and was luring artists there to record the spectacular landscape, had provided Moran transportation in return for the copyright to a canvas to be reproduced for railroad publicity. Moran arrived for the first time at the south rim of the canyon after a day's stagecoach ride from Flagstaff, Arizona, then the end of the railroad line. The title of the Butler Institute picture does not give a specific location, but it is known that the artist sketched for a number of days not only the canyon of the Colorado but neighboring canyon country as well.
After leaving the Grand Canyon, Moran went with his good friend, the frontier photographer William H. Jackson, into the mountains of Wyoming, ending with another visit to the Yellowstone area. He then returned home to East Hampton, Long Island with scores of pencil, watercolor, and oil sketches. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado (1892, Philadelphia Museum of Art) was finished by the end of August and lithographed by the Santa Fe Railroad as a promotional piece. From this and numerous other Moran paintings, late nineteenth-century America gained its images of the Southwest.
The flaring red- orange sky of An Arizona Sunset Near the Grand Canyon, made even more dramatic by the contrasting gray clouds, reflects Moran's debt to the coloristic freedom of J. M. W. Turner. The sharp drop from the edge of the foreground to the river flowing between rocky outcroppings is similar to the increased drama created in the 1892 painting of the Grand Canyon, which, instead of a foreground filling the lower edge of the picture, is only anchored at the right and left corners, the center falling away with awesome suddenness into a deep gorge. Moran's earlier pictures also tended to give landscape sharp, clearly defined features suggesting truth to topographical reality when, in fact, elements seen from different viewpoints were often combined in order to recreate the effect of the actual site. In his later paintings, landscape features tend to be less insistent in outline, more gentle in contour and enveloped in a more poetic atmosphere. Here the glowing sunset sky impressively silhouettes trees seen as a dark green mass and picks out the edges of the rock formations, separating them from deep shadow. It is more a picture of general atmospheric mood than the sum of topographical details, reflecting the late nineteenth-century taste for poetic image rather than sunlit description.


Thomas Moran
Source: Don Kurtz
ARC
Moran continued to paint the landscape moods of the Southwest, returning almost every year between 1901, when the Santa Fe completed the rail line to the Grand, Canyon, and his death in 1926. Since his first visit in 1873, he had traveled to the Rockies, Europe and Mexico, yet he was drawn back again and again to the Southwest. Alongside him now came travelers attracted to the region for the first time by the landscape images he had created.
(WILLIAM S. TALBOT at butlerart.com)
Nine years after the death of Thomas Moran his daughter, Miss Ruth R. Moran, presented to the United States “The Thomas Moran Art Collection of the National Parks.” Dr. F. M. Fryxell, of the National Park Service, says: “This collection, includes nearly 300 items. It has been temporarily assigned to Yosemite Park because of the many Yosemite subjects it contains, and because of the facilities available in the Yosemite Museum for its display under fireproof conditions.”
(yosemite.ca.us)


Thomas Moran
Photograph by Gledhill
yosemite.ca.us


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