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Española, New Mexico / Thomas Moran


In autumn 1881, Thomas Moran traveled to Colorado and New Mexico, gathering material to fulfill commissions for Colorado Tourist and Illustrated Guide and for Ernest Ingersoll’s book Crest of the Continent (1885).1 Moran took the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Chicago after completing a commission for their travel guide, Picturesque B. & O. (13.1006); he then traveled to Denver, where he transferred to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which provided transportation for the Colorado and New Mexico commissions.2 When he arrived in Española, New Mexico, Moran seems to have been so taken with the town that he grabbed a sheet of B. & O. stationery left over from his earlier trip and produced this quick watercolor sketch.

Moran’s study effectively portrayed the town’s flat-roofed adobe architecture and the Rio Grande Valley as it stretches out to the Sandia Mountains in the distance. Founded in 1598 by the Spanish as the capital of Nuevo México and formerly known as San Juan de los Caballeros, the town was renamed after the railroad arrived in 1880 and the crews began calling it Española, allegedly after a popular café.3 At the time, the small municipality was the terminus for the railway, but there were plans to extend the line to Mexico City.4 This excursion on the Denver & Rio Grande also took Moran to several pueblo communities, some of which he revisited in the years to come, portraying them in oil paintings such as Laguna Pueblo (01.1105).

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

1 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 210–12. Ernest Ingersoll and photographer William Henry Jackson accompanied Moran on the trip through Colorado and New Mexico.
2 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 209–10. Moran spent late July through early August on the B. & O. Railroad junket, and late August through October on the Denver & Rio Grande trip.
3 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 216–17. The capital of Nuevo México moved to Santa Fe in 1610. New Mexico remained a territory until 1912, when it became a state.
4 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 214–16.

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Española, New Mexico; Espanola New Mexico
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Hudson River School
watercolor and graphite on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.118- 0.126 mm Machine-made, laid, light brown lined notebook paper, cream in color. The paper was originally a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. Passenger Department slip. Inscriptions are printed in black ink at the top of the support (portrait orientation. The image is painted in a landscape orientation).. The media is located on the felt side; wire side on the verso.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0236.848; 22078
Not On View

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