Thomas Moran: Painter of Yellowstone NP

On the Trail

The Expedition Odometer  
William Henry Jackson
The Expedition Odometer

Jackson described Moran as "slight and frail" yet "wiry and active." Although Moran had never ridden a horse, only camped once, and was unaccustomed to camp food, he was determined to bear whatever was required to paint the Yellowstone region. Moran impressed and earned the respect of the thirty-some members of the survey with his adaptability, tirelessness, and courage. The artist "made a picturesque appearance" on horseback, Jackson wrote, and in a letter home, Moran confessed "You should see me bolt the bacon."

With a portfolio stuffed with sketches and his rations down to only biscuits, Moran proceeded home to translate his sketches into finished works. He produced illustrations for magazine articles, including one by Hayden, and a series of watercolors. He completed a monumental 7' x 12' panoramic painting of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in 1872. On March 21, in the NY Mail, art critic D.O.C. Townley said “...if ever a subject justified the use of a gigantic canvas surely this one does....”




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