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Moran, Thomas
Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
Birth Place Bolton, Lancashire, England
Death Place Santa Barbara, California
Born Jan. 12, 1837
Died Aug. 25, 1926
General Notes When he was five years old, Thomas Moran emigrated with his family from England to Philadelphia. His younger brother, Peter (1841-1914), actually preceded him in traveling westward, painting the scenery in New Mexico as early as 1864. It is, however, Thomas' name that became synonymous with the American West. He acquired technical skills from his older brother, the marine painter Edward Moran (1829-1901). Yet it was his encounter with the boldly colored atmospheric landscapes and seascapes of J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851)-in 1862 in London-that shaped Thomas Moran's art. Hoping to find mountain scenery to surpass the Yosemite views of Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Moran attached himself to the expedition party of Ferdinand V. Hayden, head of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories; in this capacity he traveled west, to Wyoming Territory, for the first time in the summer of 1871. Although he would paint in the West many times thereafter, his first inspired sketches made in Yellowstone Country provided source material for Moran throughout his career. His unprecedented watercolor views also were used as part of the successful campaign to designate Yellowstone as the country's first national park. In 1922, to accommodate his declining health, Moran moved to Santa Barbara, California. He died there four years later, at age eighty-nine.~~Thomas Moran's distinguished career as a printmaker parallels the development of graphic art in America through the second half of the nineteenth century. He was first trained as a commercial wood engraver in his native Philadelphia, as the new illustrated weeklies were becoming popular, but he found the medium unsatisfying and abandoned it in 1857. Around that time, Moran acquired copies of illustrated books that reproduced as etchings and mezzotints the works of painters J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) and Claude Lorrain (1600-1682). Inspired by those examples, he took his first etching lessons from John Sartain in Philadelphia in 1860. He also tried his hand at cliché-verre, a technique of etching on a glass plate to produce a photographic negative. He learned lithography from his brothers, Peter and Edward, and excelled at drawing on stone. In the 1860s, the heyday of the popular color lithograph, Moran used the medium for intensely personal artistic expressions in rich-toned monochrome. In the 1870s he reproduced his popular paintings in marketable woodcut and chromolithography, and by 1880 he was a leader of the etching revival in both the United States and Great Britain. He died in Santa Barbara, California, at age eighty-nine.
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