Art History


Thomas Moran, Captures American Wilderness on Canvas

Thomas Moran, one of the premier artists of the American landscape, often goes unrecognized. Yet, his unique style is hard to miss. One of his paintings hangs in the oval office, as a backdrop to meetings with international leaders. We at Overstockart, would be honored to introduce you to some of this amazing painter’s pieces and show you the distinct view he had of the nation during his time. Perhaps you will find a piece that captures your imagination as it did the President’s.

Life for this artist began by immigrating to New York with his family as a child. In the beginning he worked as a wood-engraver, but found that job tedious. Eventually, he moved on to illustrations and worked in a studio he shared with his brother, also an artist. At one point he was drawing illustrations for Scribner’s Monthly. They were one of the reasons he was able to participate in the Hayden expedition to explore the American West. Painting little known American landscapes in beautiful watercolors was his real passion.

During the Hayden Expedition, Moran was able to see vast parts of the country that were unknown to most Americans. After that, he joined many expeditions so that he could paint what he saw and share it with the world. He enjoyed travels to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and most notably Yellowstone.  It was during the trip to Yellowstone that Moran’s watercolors of beautiful canyons, fascinating hot springs, and mesmerizing geysers captured the attention of the American public and helped Yellowstone become America’s first national park. Moran captured the image of more than 30 sites while visiting the park and his name has become forever linked to the place.

As you look at Moran’s vast body of work, the first thing to notice is how wide he liked to paint his scenes. It was important to him that he give the audience a view as close to the original as possible. In Cliffs of the Upper Colorado River, he uses the riders in the foreground to give perspective the sheer size of the cliffs in the background. The shadows being cast by setting sun also draw the eye up, elongating the rock face. The Forest Scene, appears more intimate at first, but as you gaze down the path created by the tree you realize he has still given the impression of space. Sometimes the paintings show height, while other times they show depth. His most famous painting that hangs in the White House, is the Three Tetons. This piece was created to show a panoramic view of the mountains located in Idaho. He spares no detail in presenting not just the mountains but the water and foliage that frame the view. He displays great skill in presenting a view you can’t look away from.

The new gallery we have created for Thomas Moran includes some of his greatest pieces. They are all breathtaking views of an untouched American wilderness that we wish we could see. If this gets you interested in more landscapes, you can also look at the pieces we have from other artist’s on the subject. We are here to help if there are any questions. It is our goal to give you the perfect view for any room in your house.

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.