This illustrated catalog of Thomas Moran’s field sketches includes an interpretive essay tracing the artist’s seventy-year career in the field; a chronological, stylistic, and geographical survey of his fieldwork; an illustrated checklist of the 1080 sketches in public collections.
Moran is best known for his work in the American West during the post-Civil War expansion, particularly in what would become Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite national parks. Yet this virtuoso painter and draftsman also traveled in search of inspiration in Pennsylvania, New York’s Long Island, Florida, Wisconsin, Mexico, England, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy, returning repeatedly to favorite subjects. An almost compulsive desire to sketch refined his innate skill as one of America’s finest landscape artists.
Most of Moran’s known field sketches are reproduced here. As described in the introduction, “their range encompasses summary contour drawings of the spectacular topography of the American West, luminous watercolors that simultaneously fix local color and evoke the artist’s rapturous response to the natural world, and fully realized works that nevertheless preserve the intensity of Moran’s firsthand experience of his plein air subjects.”