Thomas Moran

One of the greatest landscape painters of the American West, Thomas Moran created works that not only portrayed the magnificence of places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, but influenced policymakers in Washington as the National Park System expanded.

Thomas Moran
and both daughters

Moran first saw the Grand Canyon as a member of John Wesley Powell's second exploration of the Canyon via the Colorado River in 1871-72.  Moran's mission was to paint a major work featuring the Grand Canyon, and Moran took to his task with earnestness and diligence.  Congress purchased the resulting painting, The Chasm of the Colorado, for $10,000, an enormous sum in the 1870s.  The painting originally hung in the Capitol building in Washington, and the seven-by-twelve-foot masterpiece hangs today in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art.

Moran would go on to create countless additional works of art featuring the Grand Canyon, including The Grand Canyon of the Colorado (1892) and An Arizona Sunset Near the Grand Canyon (1898).  The former, commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway, was used by the railroad as a promotional piece.  Between 1899 and 1920, Moran and his daughter Ruth spent almost every winter at the South Rim.

An Arizona Sunset Near the Grand Canyon

Clouds in the Canyon

Moran Point on the South Rim is named after Thomas Moran.  Historic photos courtesy of the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection.  Source material for this story: 2006 Grand Canyon National Park Calendar printed by the Grand Canyon Association.


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