THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)
THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)
THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)
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THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)

A Side Canyon, Grand Canyon of Arizona

THOMAS MORAN (1837-1926)
A Side Canyon, Grand Canyon of Arizona
signed with initials in monogram and dated 'TMoran. 1915' (lower left)—signed with artist's thumbprint device (lower right)—signed again and inscribed with title (on a label affixed to the stretcher)
oil on canvas
12 x 10 in. (30.5 x 25.4 cm.)
Painted in 1915.
Private collection, circa 1920s.
Private collection, by descent.
Christie's, New York, 21 May 2008, lot 27, sold by the above.
Acquired by the late owner from the above.
Post lot text
This work will be included in Phyllis Braff’s, Stephen Good’s and Melissa Webster Speidel’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.

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Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

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Lot Essay

Thomas Moran wrote of his fascination with the Grand Canyon, "Its forests of cedar and pine interspersed with aspens and dwarfish oak are weird in the extreme; its tremendous architecture fills one with wonder and admiration, and its color, 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." (as quoted in T. Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, Norman, Oklahoma, 1966, p. 216)

Painted in 1915, A Side Canyon, Grand Canyon of Arizona depicts a striking interior view of the chasm. This commanding picture captures a rare and intimate vision of the gorge and manifests Moran's mastery of light, color and composition as well as his artistic virtuoso. Unlike many of his Western pictures, which depict expansive landscapes, in the present work Moran chooses to render the scene from the low vantage point of the canyon floor to enhance the sheer, upward trajectory of the immense gorge walls. The small sliver of crystalline sky furthers the sense of enclosure while alluding to the expanse beyond. This distinct perspective conveys a sense of familiarity that is absent in many of the artist's large-scale works.

Moran found continual inspiration in the unique light, color and topography of the Southwest, taking it as the subject of many of his most accomplished paintings. Works such as A Side Canyon, Grand Canyon of Arizona reveal the artist's passionate attachment and profound knowledge of the future national park. He wrote, "Of all places on earth the great canyon of Arizona is the most inspiring in its pictorial possibilities." (as quoted in J.L. Kinsey, "Thomas Moran's Surveys of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon: The Coalition of Art, Business, and Government" in A.R.Morand, et al., Splendors of the American West: Thomas Moran's Art of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, Birmingham, Alabama, 1990, p. 37)

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