Thomas Moran: Painter of Yellowstone NP

Moran the Lobbyist

Crystal Falls  
Thomas Moran
Crystal Falls
Moran's sketches and Jackson's photographs were circulated through the halls of Congress and contributed to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Doubts about the wonders of the Yellowstone region must have vanished in the face of this tangible proof. Corps of Engineers Captain Hiram M. Chittenden wrote that Moran's paintings and Jackson's photographs "did a work which no other agency could do and doubtless convinced everyone who saw them that the regions where such wonders existed should be preserved to the people forever."

Jackson wrote that the watercolors and photographs made during the survey "were the most important exhibits brought before the [Congressional] Committee." The "wonderful coloring" of Moran's sketches, he wrote, made all the difference.

Just seven months after Moran's work on the Hayden Survey ended, an astoundingly short period of time by today's standards, Yellowstone National Park was a reality. Three months later, after creating a public sensation, Moran's panoramic "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" was purchased by the Congress for display in the Senate lobby, causing a noted art critic to call it "the only good picture to be found in the Capitol." Friends had begun to call the artist "Tom 'Yellowstone' Moran," and Moran had begun incorporating a "Y" into his initials when signing his works. "In finding the Yellowstone," one biographer wrote, "Moran had found himself...."

 

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