Mary Nimmo Moran was America’s premier female etcher in the second half of the nineteenth century. Born in Strathaven, Scotland, Moran lost her mother at the age of five. Her father, the weaver Archibald Nimmo, moved the family to Pennsylvania, where they became neighbors of the Moran family of artists. Mary married Thomas Moran in 1862 and learned to paint and draw from her husband, who encouraged her artistic talent. They lived in Newark, New Jersey and East Hampton, New York, and took sketching trips throughout the Eastern, Western, and Southern United States, as well as Europe. As Thomas’s fame grew, Mary managed his career, raised their three children, and ran a drawing school in New Jersey.
She also gained her own recognition as an artist, with critics—including John Ruskin—praising her etchings. She exhibited widely throughout the 1880s and 90s, showing work at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, the American Watercolor Society, and the Union League Club. She was elected a member of the Society of Painter-Etchers in New York, the New York Etching Club, and the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in England, where she was the only woman among the sixty-five members. In 1893, she also won a medal at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but her life and career were cut short by typhoid fever six years later. The Smithsonian Institution mounted a solo exhibition of her artwork in 1950; today, her work is featured in the Smithsonian Institution, the Newark Museum, the High Museum of Art, the Lowe Art Museum, the Parrish Art Museum, and the Yosemite Museum.
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