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Stream from Faithful / Thomas Moran


Like the famous Yellowstone geyser depicted here, Thomas Moran’s artistic habits could be described as “Old Faithful” for their consistency. When he returned to Yellowstone in 1892, he continued the habit of a lifetime—field sketches with notations. In this drawing, Moran made extensive color notations, perhaps because the hues did not seem possible. Orange to surround the stream from the geyser and more orange on the horizon? The note near the dip in the land, “W. Blue, sunset,” explains the extraordinary colors: Moran was fortunate to witness the Old Faithful geyser erupting at sunset, no doubt a stunning site.

Moran first visited Yellowstone in 1871 with Ferdinand V. Hayden’s United States Geological Survey. The paintings the artist created, such as his 1872 The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was purchased by the United States Congress, helped establish his career.1 An invitation from Wyoming government officials prompted Moran’s second visit. The newly admitted state (1890) wished to be represented at the upcoming World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with a painting befitting its most famous attraction, Yellowstone National Park. Moran’s preparation for the painting included spending two weeks in Yellowstone drawing the geysers, waterfalls, and hot springs.2 His drawings resulted in several oil paintings, including The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893 and 1901), which was exhibited at the exposition, and a smaller version of that work, the Gilcrease’s Lower Falls, Yellowstone Park (01.2344).3

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

1 Anderson et al., Thomas Moran, 54. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872) is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, lent by the Department of the Interior Museum, L.1968.84.1.
2 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 78–79. Before visiting Yellowstone, Moran visited Arizona’s Grand Canyon again to fulfill a commission for the Santa Fe Railroad. The Gilcrease collection contains sketches from the Arizona trip—The Grand Canyon of the Colorado (02.931), Opposite Hance’s Camp (13.843), and The San Francisco Mountains, from between Flagstaff and Cedar Ranch (13.844)—and from the Yellowstone excursion: Lower Geyser Basin (02.829), Moran’s Point, Yellowstone Canyon (02.830), and Upper Basins (02.831). Additional drawings are owned by the East Hampton Library and the National Park Service.
3 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 78–79. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893 and 1901) is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1928.7.1. Moran reworked the 1893 painting in 1901.

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Stream from Faithful; stream from FAITHFUL
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Hudson River School
graphite on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.203- 0.209 mm Machine-made, wove, slightly textured surface, pinkish-cream in color. The drawing is located on the felt side; wire side on the verso.
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, 1969
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1969; 1336.1016; 21489
Not On View

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