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West Time, 1/2 Past 6 O'Clock / Thomas Moran


“That landscape painter that does not make his sky a very material part of his composition, neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids.”1 —John Constable

In 1870, Thomas Moran created several cloud studies, including West Time, ½ Past 6 O’ Clock, which art historian Anne Morand suggests may have been inspired by European artists such as England’s John Constable (1776–1837).2 Moran could have seen Constable’s drawings on one of his trips to England in 1862 or 1867. Moreover, the influential American art journal, The Crayon, published an article by artist C. R. Leslie (1794–1859) that included an excerpt from Constable’s thoughts on cloud studies. Leslie noted Constable made extensive notations on his studies about date, time of day, and even wind direction.3 Moran provided similar commentary on his studies, including this one.

This drawing’s title derives from Moran’s inscription in the upper left, which includes the date and exact time of day the artist made his observations of the sky, as well as the notation “Dark Clouds with Light gray edges.” The title of another sketch, Falls of Schuylkill (13.955), is based on Moran’s notes about the location where he made the study but does not depict the waterfall. Instead, the artist focused entirely on the sky, and he made extensive notations about the clouds he observed and depicted, including “Stratus Brownish gray with warm edges lighter than the Cumulus.”

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

1 Constable quoted in Leslie, “Skies,” 26.
2 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 34–35. Morand notes that other European artists made cloud studies, including J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851), Camille Corot (1796–1875), and Alexander Cozens (1717–1786). Moran's biographer Thurman Wilkins suggests that Moran’s cloud studies resemble Cozens’s “ink blot” exercises. Cozens, in an effort to foster creativity in his students, instructed them to drop ink on drawing paper, then imaginatively create a landscape. Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 283–84. Besides this work, the Gilcrease owns Falls of Schuylkill (13.953), Falls of Schuylkill (13.955), Storm-Evening Looking Southwest (13.954), and Storm Clouds (13.657).
3 Leslie, “Skies,” 26.

Curatorial Remarks

In addition to his cloud studies, Moran also created ink blot studies, see for example 02.774 - 02.778. Sandra Pauly, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Moran Collection Research 2.24.22

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West Time, 1/2 Past 6 O'Clock; West time 1/2 6 Oclock
Thomas Moran (Artist)
June 28, 1870
Hudson River School
graphite and wash on newsprint
Landscape; one sided 0.095-0.097 mm Machine made, wove paper, smooth mat surface, cream in color, image executed on wire side. Support is thin and fairly translucent. Same paper and top PL tear as 1326.955, 1326.953, 1326.954,
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0226.883; 31142
Not On View

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