Yellowstone Artist Series - MORAN


We are going to start this series with Thomas Moran. A huge name in Yellowstone Art. He helped to create the Park itself with his paintings from the Hayden Expedition of 1871 - a two month exploration trip of the region.

Moran, the artist and Jackson the photographer, joined the explorers and the geologist Ferdinand Hayden, who was the leader of that first government-sponsored survey in the summer of 1871. Moran created numerous watercolor sketches of the area to bring back to the unknowing public in the East...

Lower Entrance to Madison Canyon watercolor August 8, 1871

in the collection of the National Park Service

Above Tower Falls, watercolor and gouache on paper, 1871,

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

The Yellowstone Range from near Fort Ellis, watercolor on paper, 1871,

Yellowstone National Park

Cinnabar Mountain, Yellowstone River, watercolor on paper, 1871,

Yellowstone National Park

Castle Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin Watercolor, 1871 Hayden Expedition

These first color images of Yellowstone amazed the public who had been skeptical of stories that this landscape even existed. Hayden and others used the images to persuade Congress to preserve the area - and Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872.

Moran's impact on Yellowstone was significant, but Yellowstone had a big influence on Moran as well. In the public's eye, he was now the painter of Yellowstone - and he even adopting the new signature T-Y-M... Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran.

Moran's masterpiece of Yellowstone, painted back East with his studies.... 14 feet by 8 feet! - seen in person, it's absolutely astounding...

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 1872 by Thomas Moran

Keep in mind, that this is a very tiny rendition of a HUGE powerful painting - so it cannot tell the whole story. If you are anywhere near Washington D.C., I highly recommend going to the "Moran Room" in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where you can see this painting. I was fortunate enough to be there in January. If you can make it, look for the bear hidden in the trees on the left in The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and you'll get to see other huge Moran masterpieces there, as well.

Many of his personal belongings from his time in Yellowstone, are now archived in the collection of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. I have painted many of them! Fascinating to see - they exude Yellowstone art history. Even his personal diary is in the collection - and here's the link where you can read it!

Moran's brushes, palette knife and wallet - in oils - by Shirl Ireland

Moran's Smith & Wesson Revolver - in watercolors - by Shirl Ireland

Moran's hat - in watercolors - by Shirl Ireland

And a reproduction of a Moran oil painting I am currently working on...

(Stay tuned for the finished product!)

Moran worked in both oils and watercolors, so I thought it's appropriate to paint his belongings in both mediums, too.

Castle Geyser 1872 watercolor by Moran in the collection of the Gilcrease Museum

The Great Blue Spring of the Lower Geyser Basin by Moran

Library of Congress Washington, DC

Hope you enjoyed your 'art history moment'...

To read more on Moran in Yellowstone - click here.


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