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Fort George Island / Thomas Moran

Essay/Description

Thomas Moran’s depiction of Fort George Island evokes the spirit of a cheery, sunny day of relaxation in Florida. The curve of the palm tree suggests its rhythmic sway in warm, tropical breezes; a palette of pale blues and greens creates a lighthearted mood; and the low horizon line allows for a vast expanse of sky to preside over the tranquil landscape.

Moran first traveled to Florida in February 1877 for Scribner’s Monthly, which planned to run an illustrated article later that year—Julia E. Dodge’s “An Island of the Sea”—about Fort George Island, located at the mouth of the St. Johns River, around twenty-five miles north of Jacksonville.1 By the 1870s, Florida was already attracting more than fifty thousand tourists annually.2 Nonetheless, little Fort George Island was often overlooked, something Dodge’s article was intended to correct. Moran provided five illustrations, including “The Road, Fort George Island,” which was based on this watercolor.3

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

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1 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 152. Moran's wife, the artist Mary Nimmo Moran (1842–1899), accompanied him on trips to Florida in 1877, 1887, and 1891. Gilcrease’s collection of artworks created by the couple includes more than thirty-five drawings, watercolors, and etchings inspired by their visits to the state, most notably Evening on the St. Johns River, Florida (14.93g) and Point Isabel, Florida (14.114b) by Mary Nimmo Moran and St. Johns River, Florida (14.652) by Thomas Moran. See Anderson et al., Thomas Moran, 252; Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 77; and Morand and Friese, Prints of Nature, 4–5.
2 Gannon, New History of Florida, 259.
3 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 152–57.

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Title(s): 
Fort George Island
Creator(s): 
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Culture: 
American
Date: 
late 1870s
Period: 
Hudson River School
Materials/Techniques: 
watercolor and graphite on paper
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
02.792
Previous Number(s): 
0226.792; 18053
Department: 
Signed by hand in pencil, "TMoran" in lower left on recto; Notes in the artist's hand; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Fort George Island" in lower left on recto; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "Fort George Island, Florida" in upper right on verso.
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