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Thomas Moran

(1837 - 1926)
Born in Bolton, England, like his artist brothers, Thomas Moran rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most celebrated and successful American artists of his era.

He apprenticed with a wood engraving firm in Philadelphia during his teenage years and then studied with his older brother, Edward, a talented painter of marine genre subjects who had studied with Martin Johnson Heade, Sanford Gifford and John F. Kensett. The two brothers were highly enamored of the work of the English landscapist J.M.W. Turner and traveled to England in 1862 to study his work in person.

Thomas began his career as an artist of the Hudson River School but in 1871 he made the first of eight extended trips to the West and subject matter from the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite began to dominate his output. Thomas traveled regularly to the West until he was in his 60s, passing through New Mexico on multiple occasions. He sketched numerous pueblo scenes and developed them into etchings and oil paintings back in his studio in Newark, New Jersey.

Like his younger brother Peter, Thomas had traveled on occasion with the photographer William Henry Jackson, and like Peter he utilized some of Jackson’s photographs as the basis for etchings. This is likely the case with Thomas’s 1891 etching of San Juan Pueblo, now known as Ohkay Owingeh.

Thomas and Peter were both master etchers and regularly submitted major examples of their work to juried exhibitions. The brothers’ technique bears obvious similarities but Thomas did not feature domestic animals to the degree that his younger brother did—only one reclining burro is featured in Thomas’s composition. Thomas’s inscription at lower right, printed in reverse from the plate, reads ‘Old church, Pueblo San Juan, New Mexico.’ Thomas created fewer New Mexico prints than Peter and the signature on this example ensures that it passed through the hands of the artist himself.