Thomas Moran was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. He was a younger brother of the noted marine artist Edward Moran, with whom he shared a studio. A talented illustrator and exquisite colorist, Moran was hired as an illustrator at Scribner's Monthly. During the late 1860s, he was appointed the chief illustrator for the magazine, a position that helped him launch his career as one of the premier painters of the American landscape, in particular, the American West.
Moran's vision of the Western landscape was critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In 1871 Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, director of the United States Geological Survey, invited Moran to join his expedition team into the then-unknown Yellowstone region. Hayden was just about to embark on his journey when he received a letter from financier Jay Cooke presenting Moran as "an artist of Philadelphia of rare genius." During 40 days in the wilderness area, Moran documented over 30 different sites and produced a diary of the expedition's progress and daily activities. His sketches, along with photographs produced by William Henry Jackson, captured the nation's attention and helped inspire Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872. Moran, along with Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and William Keith, are sometimes referred to as the “Rocky Mountain School” of landscape painters because of all of the Western landscapes they created.
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