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Untitled [landscape] / Mary Nimmo Moran

Essay/Description

“Thomas Moran the etcher, and Mary Nimmo, his wife, work side by side down in their studio on Twenty-second Street. Big tables near the light, on which are laid the plates while the artists are at work, are an important feature of their furnishings; but there are easels too, for before either of them was an etcher they were painters.”1 —Elizabeth Bisland, The Cosmopolitan, 1889

A rocky shore in the foreground guides us into the scene, where we can rest under the lofty trees and take in the vista before us. To create this expansive view, Mary Nimmo Moran made an intriguing compositional choice. The artist depicts a bend in the river and as the sun’s rays break through the clouds, they illuminate the stretch of water in the distance, enhancing the sense of depth and breadth.

Examples of Nimmo Moran’s oil painting are rare, and in 2018, the Gilcrease was delighted to receive this work as a gift.2 Although Nimmo Moran became best known for her etched works of the 1880s, she began her career as a painter. She first exhibited a landscape painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1869, and during the 1870s, she presented her oil paintings at the National Academy of Design in New York City.3 The artist’s husband, Thomas Moran (1837–1926), exhibited early paintings such as his 1862 Summer on the Susquehanna (01.2335) at those venues as well.4

—Sandra Pauly, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Moran Collection Research, 2021

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1 Bisland, “The Studios of New York,” 18. Elizabeth Bisland, the writer for The Cosmopolitan magazine, would gain fame for herself shortly after writing this article about the Morans. In November 1889, Bisland set out on a journey around the world, competing with journalist Nellie Bly of the New York World to best the record of the fictitious Phileas Fogg of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Goodman, prologue to Eighty Days.
2 In the donor’s family for generations, the painting was originally owned by Reverend Henry Lee Gilbert, whose aunt Sylvania “Sallie” P. Lee was married to Nimmo Moran’s brother Archibald Nimmo Jr. Donor, email message to author, February 28, 2021. Other examples of Nimmo Moran’s oil paintings include View of Newark from the Meadows (1879, Newark Museum of Art, 56.171), East Hampton, Long Island (n.d., private collection), and In Dr. E. Osborn’s Garden (1895, East Hampton Library).
3 Vittoria, “Nature and Nostalgia in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran,” 3–4, 93–96. Nimmo Moran exhibited A Wood Scene at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1869; although its present location is unknown, reviews described it as a forest interior with a waterfall and stream, flanked by a stone wall and house.
4 Anderson et al., Thomas Moran, 29.

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Title(s): 
Untitled [landscape]
Creator(s): 
Mary Nimmo Moran (Artist)
Culture: 
American
Date: 
1868
Materials/Techniques: 
oil on canvas
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Given in honor of Eleanor and Edgar Wallace
Accession No: 
01.2593
Previous Number(s): 
TL2018.9; TL2018.9
Department: 
Signed by hand in paint, "M. N. MORAN. 1868" in lower left on recto.
Not On View

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