Thomas Moran (1837-1926) Sunset at Sea 24 3/8 x 30 3/8in

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Lot 54
Thomas Moran
Sunset at Sea 24 3/8 x 30 3/8in

Sold for US$ 247,500 inc. premium

American Art

24 May 2017, 10:00 EDT

New York

Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
Sunset at Sea
signed with conjoined initials and dated 'TMoran / 1907.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 3/8 x 30 3/8in


  • Provenance
    Private collection, Alabama.
    Sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, October 17, 1962, lot 83.
    Schweitzer Gallery, New York, acquired from the above.
    with Meredith Long Galleries, Houston, Texas, 1963.
    Private collection, circa 1970s.
    By descent to the present owner.

    This painting will be included in Stephen L. Good and Phyllis Braff's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

    Thomas Moran is a name most recognized and synonymous with American Art. It is his monumental paintings of the American West that became great wonders for audiences across the United States. Moran first ventured out west at the age of thirty-four, in 1871, when he accompanied the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of Territories to Yellowstone National Park, and two years later visited the Grand Canyon. From this point forward the artist focused exclusively on landscape painting and primarily depicting the American West. Moran even adopted the nickname Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran and produced a monogram to accompany his new title, 'TYM,' which he signed to his paintings produced after 1872.

    Born in Bolton, England, in 1832, to Mary and Thomas Moran Sr., the artist's origins in Europe were short lived. Forced out of the country due to wide spread poverty and near famine in Bolton, Thomas Moran Sr. arrived in America in 1842, followed by his wife and seven children in 1844. In the years that followed, the Moran children prospered. Thomas' older brother Edward Moran (1829-1901) became a successful artist in his own right, exhibiting four paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1854, paving the way for young Thomas to begin his own artistic studies. During this time, beginning in 1853, Thomas worked as an engraver for Scattergood and Telfer in Philadelphia, and began his studies under Paul Weber and James Hamilton, two men who would later be regarded by Moran as fundamental mentors to his development as an artist. (N.K. Anderson, Thomas Moran, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 25)

    The first decade of the twentieth century was a tumultuous time for Moran. His brothers, Edward and John, died consecutively in 1901 and 1902, then in 1907 he lost is only son, Paul. This was a great period of loss for the artist, but despite these hardships, he worked more than he ever had in his career, producing a great number of paintings and traveling extensively throughout the United States as well as Europe each year until his death. His acquaintance with so many of the world's most beautiful countries seemed to only encourage his fondness for the American landscape. Upon return from a European expedition, Moran told a report for the New York World, "I looked at the Alps, but they are nothing compared to the majestic grandeur of our wonderful Rockies. I have painted them all my life and I shall continue to paint them as long as I can hold a brush." (Ibid, p. 164)

    The present work Sunset at Sea, painted in 1907, is perhaps reflective of the psychological burden that must have consumed the artist during this time. This seascape presents stormy waters which have grown into crashing waves in the foreground. A burst of color illustrates the magic hour at sea – the sun ablaze as it fades behind looming clouds of a darkening night sky. The fiery palette of yellow and orange are reminiscent of the artist's beloved Yellowstone and Grand Canyon pictures. More than a personal reflection for the artist, indicative of the life events that shaped this period for Moran, Sunset at Sea may document Moran's lasting testimony to nature and its emotional gravity.

    While the grand manner canvases the artist composed of the American frontier captured collectors for the century that followed their execution, the present work, executed in a more intimate scale, illustrates the same fierce passion Moran maintained for American scenery throughout his career.
Thomas Moran (1837-1926) Sunset at Sea 24 3/8 x 30 3/8in
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