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Hamptons Life

Jun 14, 2019 2:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Thomas Moran Discovers the American West In East Hampton

Jun 17, 2019 12:20 PM


In 1884, the great American landscape painter Thomas Moran and his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran, a celebrated printmaker, and their children moved into their new studio and house that Moran himself designed on East Hampton’s historical Main Street. The Studio, as it has been known since the Moran family first occupied it, comprises Thomas Moran’s studio and the rooms they lived in, as well as the gardens and outbuildings. The Moran Studio was the first artist’s studio built in East Hampton and it played a significant role in American art history. In its heyday, The Studio was a lively center of the turn-of-the-19th-century art colony. Through a meticulous five-year restoration project, the Moran Studio was salvaged from dilapidation, and proudly opened its doors to the public in July 2018.

On Saturday, June 29, the East Hampton Historical Society, stewards of the Thomas & Mary Nimmo Moran Studio, opens its newest exhibition “Thomas Moran Discovers the American West.” This artful and historically curated exhibition runs through November 9 and it details Moran’s adventurous participation in the 1871 Hayden Expedition to Wyoming, exploring its impact on both the art world and the National Parks Service.

The exhibition traces Thomas Moran’s empowerment as an artist as he explored the American West on a trajectory to become one of the leaders of both the National Parks movement, and a small group of artists who promote America’s pride in its landscape and natural wonders.

The substantial portion of this exhibition is material that is returning to Moran’s studio after being gifted to Yellowstone National Park in the 1940s. This enlightening collection of his watercolors, a sketchbook, oil paintings and even the pistol he shot a rattlesnake with, form the core of what will be an illustrated story of Thomas Moran and his help in making Americans appreciate their natural treasures.

Rare loans from the National Park Service will supplement the show, including period maps, stereographic cards, wood engravings, photographs and important late 19th century publications that support this story of Thomas Moran.

“The significance of the Morans and their role locally and nationally is of great importance to the world of art,” said Maria Vann, Executive Director of the East Hampton Historical Society, “but in a broader sense, also because of Thomas Moran’s role in the founding of our National Parks.” Summer hours for “Thomas Moran Discovers the American West” are Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This exhibition and its associated educational programming celebrate the second year of operation for the Morans’ Studio, which is located at 229 Main Street in East Hampton. The turreted Queen Anne style building is registered as a National Historic Landmark, and recently became the newest member of The Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) Program of The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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