Edward Moran

Artist Biography

A talented marine painter famous for his naturalist depictions of American and Canadian coastlines.

By Chelsea DeLay

Live near the sea, always be on the watch, and use every means of study.
—Edward Moran

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Suggested Resources
VII. Notes

I. Biography

Born in Bolton, England on August 19, 1829, Edward Moran was the eldest son of the artistic Moran brood. In 1844, his parents chose to immigrate to the United States, where the entire family settled in Philadelphia. When he was fifteen years old, Moran was hired by a weaving company to man one of the power looms, which was a job he held for seven years.[1] While growing up in Philadelphia, Moran was able to develop his passion for art under the instruction of artists James Hamilton and Paul Weber, both of whom instilled in their young student a respectful appreciation for sea and landscape painting.[2]

The 1850s marked the early development of Moran’s artistic career; in 1854 he moved into his own studio and also began exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Due to his rising success in the art world, Edward Moran’s name soon became inextricably linked with marine painting. One year after his marriage to Elizabeth McManes in 1859, Moran became one of eight artists elected to Academician membership by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, an honor that had not been awarded within the previous thirteen years.[3]

The artistic rat race took off in America during the 1860s and ‘70s, and Moran and his brother, artist Thomas Moran, were only too willing to participate. The brothers followed the many American artists who went abroad on a European tour, and made a brief sojourn in England.[4] The artist’s stateside return was quickly followed by a expedition through America’s heartland in 1866, and during the concluding leg of the trip Moran decided to take a brief turn north, which landed him in upstate New York. The lure of the Niagara Falls had proved too great for Moran to resist and there was something about the inspiring power and monumentality of the landmark which deeply resonated within him. This trip caused a significant stylistic ramification to Moran’s work: he seemed to shy away from his typical stormy, churning seas, and began to paint larger-scaled marine scenes which possessed a lesser sense of chaos.

As an artist, Moran was extremely proud of his work, which was evident given his behavior at the 1868 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibition. Outraged that his works did not have more prominent placement, Moran cut one of his canvases out of the frame and covered his remaining works in an opaque varnish. Appalled by his conduct, the Board of Directors threatened that if Moran did not apologize, his name would be removed from the list of Academicians at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While the situation went on to garner a great deal of public attention for both the exhibition and Moran’s work, Moran refused to back down and issued his resignation from the Academy on April 15, 1868.[5]

Having destroyed the relationship between himself and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Moran needed to expand his exhibition radius; New York City provided a clean slate and ample opportunity for Moran to exhibit his work, so he moved there in 1871. Moran’s experimentation with luminism began during the 1870s, and much of his work from this period demonstrates the use of filtered light, hazy brushwork, and a preference for portraying mood over subject matter.[6] At this point in his career, Moran’s skill was unparalleled in the art world, and the National Academy of Design awarded him with Associate membership in 1874.

Moran revisited Europe in 1877, and while in France was exposed to the Barbizon school and working en plein air.[7] When he arrived home to New York City two years later, Moran was widely regarded as the leading marine painter in America. In addition to his talents as a painter, he became highly regarded as an artistic instructor. Moran’s innate ability for deciphering the instinctive aspects of painting can be seen in his 1888 feature in The Art Amateur: He purported that a successful artist must first master the basics of color and form, and emphasized photography as a visual aid that should utilized, not ignored.[8]

The culmination of Moran’s career coincided with the completion of a series entitled The Edward Moran Series of Historical Paintings Representing Important Epochs in the Maritime History of the United States. This series, completed in 1898, consisted of thirteen maritime paintings that championed the naval achievements of the United States.[9] In 1901, just three years after finishing his crowning achievement, Moran passed away in New York City.

II. Chronology

1829 Born August 19 in Bolton, England
1844 The Moran family immigrated to the United States, settled in Baltimore
1845–52 Worked as a power-loom boss in Philadelphia, PA
1853 Mentored by James Hamilton and Paul Weber
1854 Exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his first major exhibition
1859 Married Elizabeth McManes
1860 Elected an Academician at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1862 Traveled to England with his brother, Thomas Moran
First son, Edward Percy, was born July 29
1864 Second son, John Léon, was born October 4
1866 Visited Pittsburgh, Ohio, and Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York
1867 Demonstrated a stylistic shift away from storm scenes, moved towards calm, monumental compositions
1868 In protest of the placement of his pictures on exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he cut down one of his works and painted over several others
1869 Issued a letter of resignation from his Academician membership of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Married second wife, Annette Parmentier
Entered into agreement with Louis Prang to publish a chromolithograph version of Launching the Lifeboat
1871 Moved to New York City
1873–75 Resided in Clifton, Staten Island for two years
1874 Elected Associate member to the National Academy of Design
Joined the Lotos Club
1877 Moved to Europe with his wife and two sons, settled in France
1879 Returned to the United States, resumed residence in New York City
1882–86 Moved to South Brooklyn
1886 Served as Chairman of the Fine Arts Committee of the Lotos Club
1888 Authored instructive features in The Art Amateur
1894 Elected Vice-President of the Lotos Club
1898 Completed The Edward Moran Series of Historical Paintings Representing Important Epochs in the Maritime History of the United States
1900 Began to suffer from uremic poisoning
1901 Passed away June 9 in New York City
1902 The estate of Edward Moran was auctioned at the Fifth Avenue Art Galleries

III. Collections

Allen Memorial Art Museum, OH
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA
Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY
Butler Institute of Art, OH
Charles Allis Art Museum, WI
Chrysler Museum, VA
Columbus Museum of Art, OH
Denver Art Museum, CO
Everson Museum of Art, NY
George Museum of Art, GA
Heckscher Museum, NY
High Museum of Art, GA
Hunter Museum of American Art, TN
Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, MS
Maryhill Museum of Art, WA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, WI
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, NY
Museum of Art at Brigham Young University, UT
Museum of Arts and Sciences, FL
Museum of the City of New York, NY
Museum of the City of New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
New York Historical Society, NY
New York Public Library, NY
Newark Museum, NJ
North Carolina Museum of Art, NC
Peabody Essex Museum, MA
Philadelphia Athenaeum, PA
Print Club of Albany, NY
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, FL
San Diego Museum of Art, CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Staten Island Museum, NY
The Lightner Museum, FL
The State Museum of Pennsylvania, PA
United States Naval Academy, MD
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, MD
Woodmere Art Museum, PA

IV. Exhibitions

1854–68 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, PA
1857–96 National Academy of Design, NY
1857 Washington Art Association, Washington, D.C.
1858 Boston Art Athenaeum, MA
1864 Great Central Fair of the Philadelphia Agency for United States Sanitary Commission, PA
1865 The Artists’ Fund Society, NY
1871 James S. Earle & Sons Galleries, NY
1872 American Society of Painters in Water Colors, NY
1872–84 Brooklyn Art Association, NY
1874–82, 1884–90 Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition, IL
1876 Centennial Exhibition, PA
1888 Boston Art Club, MA
1893 Colombian Exposition, IL
1894 The Lotos Club, NY
1895 Boston Art Club, MA
1904 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
1907 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
1979 The Delaware Art Museum, DE
The Mariners Museum, VA
1888–1905 Art Institute of Chicago, IL

V. Memberships

American Watercolor Society
London Water Color Society
Lotos Club, 1874, Chairman of the Fine Arts Committee, 1886; Vice-President, 1894
National Academy of Design, Associate, 1874
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Academician, 1860

VI. Suggested Resources

Falk, Peter H. “Edward Moran.” In Who Was Who in American Art, 2323. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1999.
Moran, Edward. “Marine Painting.” The Art Amateur 19 (November 1888): 127–8.
Schweizer, Paul D. Edward Moran: American Marine Landscape Painter. Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1979.

VII. Notes

1. Paul D. Schweizer, Edward Moran: American Marine Landscape Painter (Wilmington, Delaware Art Museum 1979), 13.
2. G.W.S. “American Painters. Edward Moran,” The Art Journal (1875–1887) New Series, vol. 6 (1880): 257, accessed June 25, 2012, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20569565.
3. Schweizer, 21.
4. G.W.S., 257.
5. Schweizer, 29.
6. Louis Brooks, “Edward Moran” in The Art Amateur 2 (January 1880): 26, accessed June 25, 2012, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25626969.
7. Ibid.
8. Edward Moran, “Marine Painting,” The Art Amateur 19 (November 1888): 128, accessed June 25, 2012, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25628868.
9. Hugh W. Coleman, “Passing of a Famous Artist, Edward Moran,” Brush & Pencil 8 (July 1901): 192, accessed June 25, 2012, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25505656.

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