Thomas Moran’s Most Inspiring Place

Moran_Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset

Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset, 1909. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection

If you stopped by Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection in its opening weekend, you might have noticed that several works within the exhibition take that majestic national treasure, the Grand Canyon, as a focal point. Chief among them is Thomas Moran’s captivating Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset.

Moran’s almost yearly trips to the Grand Canyon were sponsored by the Santa Fe Railway, but the artist’s belief in the majesty of the place was deeply felt. “Of all places on earth the great canyon of Arizona is the most inspiring in its pictorial possibilities,” Moran once wrote, addressing his fellow American artists and advocating for the subject’s place among the worthiest for art. “Its tremendous architecture fills one with wonder and admiration, and its colors, forms, and atmosphere are so ravishingly beautiful that however well-traveled one may be, a new world is opened to him when he gazes into the Grand Canyon of Arizona.”

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