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Near Feltville, N.J. / Thomas Moran

Essay/Description

During the summer of 1878, Thomas Moran spent several weeks in and around Feltville, New Jersey, sketching more than a dozen images of the partially abandoned mill town.1 In this ink wash, the artist used gouache for the crisp, white clouds above the building and the reflections in the stream below. Mature trees and lush grasses surround the mill, creating a very different view of a factory town than Moran depicted in his etching Communipaw, N.J. (14.430a-u), or even in a scene from his birthplace in England, Toothill Bridge, Bolton, Lancashire (02.801). Feltville, was, in fact, planned as an alternative to densely populated and polluted industrial towns.

Established in 1845 by David Felt, a successful publisher, the town with its paper mill and bindery was envisioned as a community where laborers would have access to well-constructed yet affordable housing, thoughtfully planned communal facilities, and a healthy rural environment free from the air and water pollution afflicting other industrial towns. Feltville, located in a region that was still largely agrarian, would ideally offer the best of urban employment opportunities with the bucolic lifestyle of a farming community. For both personal and financial reasons, Felt withdrew his backing of the mill and bindery in 1860 and with the subsequent failure of those industries, workers began to leave. Some inhabitants remained, however, in an attempt to maintain the community, which had begun to attract tourists from nearby Newark and New York City. Indeed, by 1882, the area was purchased by Warren Ackerman, who transformed it into a resort called Glenside Park.2

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

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1 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 46. Although Moran did not date this drawing, the other sketches are dated to July and August 1878. In addition to this work, the Gilcrease owns Feltville Dam (18.16.1), Feltville (18.16.2, 18.16.3, 18.16.4, 18.16.5, 18.16.6, 18.16.7, 18.16.8, 18.16.9, 18.16.10), Feltville (13.960), Feltville (13.528), Feltville (13.536), Feltville (13.561), Feltville (13.566), and Feltville (13.959).
2 Tomaso, Veit, DeRooy, and Walling, “Social Status and Landscape in a Nineteenth-Century Planned Industrial Alternative Community,” 20–26, 33.

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Title(s): 
Near Feltville, N.J.
Creator(s): 
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Culture: 
American
Date: 
1878
Period: 
Hudson River School
Materials/Techniques: 
graphite and wash with white gouache on paper
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
02.789
Previous Number(s): 
0226.789; 41325
Department: 
Signed by hand in pencil, "TMoran" in lower left on recto; Notes in the artist's hand; Artist's color notations and reference notes are present in sketch; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Near Feltville, N.J." in lower left on recto; Inscribed by hand in black ink, "362." in upper left on verso; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Green sluice where the water runs over the rocks under the dam" in lower left on verso; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Rock purple gray, every knot in bright yellow" in lower center on verso; Pencil sketch of a structure with color notations on verso.
Not On View

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