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Western Landscapes

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The Golden Hour

19th century
41.9 cm x 52.4 cm x 7.6 cm (16 1/2 in. x 20 5/8 in. x 3 in.)

Thomas Moran (Lancashire, England, 1837 - 1926, Santa Barbara, California) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Bequest of C.R. Smith, 1991
Accession Number: 1991.42

Thomas Moran’s romanticized view of the towering cliffs of the Green River in southwestern Wyoming is notable for the operatic power of its imagery, despite the picture’s modest scale. An impossibly fiery sunset suffuses the jagged outcroppings in a golden light that exaggerates the glories and grandeur of nature. Americans back east were eager to discover the uninhabited western landscape through paintings like this and through reproductions. To make an even more compelling picture, Moran took certain liberties with features of the undeniably spectacular landscapes he observed on his trips to Wyoming during the summers of 1871 and 1872. Loosely and impressionistically painted, The Golden Hour is neither a major nor a typical work by Moran, but its magical intensity successfully communicates the artist’s deep fondness for the first western site he ever sketched.

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