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Windsor / Thomas Moran


During Thomas Moran’s 1862 trip to Great Britain, he had the opportunity to study the works of the British artist J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) at the National Gallery.1 Turner bequeathed his art to Great Britain and, upon his death, the National Gallery received some 20,098 items, including drawings, prints, and sketchbooks. The critic John Ruskin, who knew Turner and championed his work, catalogued the collection, finishing in 1858.2 Thus, at the time of Thomas’s visit to England, he could have viewed not only Turner’s paintings but also his sketchbooks. Family lore relates that one of the attendants at the National Gallery “freely brought paintings by Turner and even drawings” to Moran for copying in a room set up for that purpose.3

Several of Turner’s sketches depict Windsor Castle from the Thames, as did Moran in this drawing.4 One of Turner’s sketches presents a view of Windsor with the adjacent bridge to the right, yet curiously Moran drew that bridge separately at the top of the page.5 Moran’s unusual depiction suggests that he either created a composite of the various drawings by Turner or that he sketched the scene outdoors and added the bridge at the top for some reason. Indeed, according to art historian Anne Morand, by the summer of 1862 Thomas had headed outdoors to sketch the sites depicted by Turner.6 Moran’s addition of objects or structures to the top of his drawings is an intriguing feature of some of his field sketches. There are a variety of possible explanations, such as combining two scenes on one sheet or a desire to sketch a feature in more detail.7

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

1 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 13, 18.
2 The Turner Bequest is now housed at the Tate. For a discussion of the Turner Bequest, see David Blayney Brown’s “Project Overview” in J. M. W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, on the Tate website under Tate Research Publications.
3 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 41. A common practice, the attendants kept a registry to track which artworks visiting artists had copied. Unfortunately, the years 1855 through 1901 are missing; see Warrell, “Moran's Turner,” 54 in Townsend, et al.
4 For Turner’s sketches of Windsor, see reference numbers D06076, D06077, D06078, and D06086 in the Tate collection.
5 For Turner’s sketch, see reference number D06086 in the Tate collection.
6 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 19–20.
7 Morand, Thomas Moran: The Field Sketches, 20–21. Worth noting in this sketch is Moran’s pencil notation in the center: “too small.” Notes such as this are a frequent feature of Moran’s sketches and often refer to color, composition, scale, or perspective.

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Thomas Moran (Artist)
Hudson River School
graphite on paper
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1376.895; 39142
Signed by hand in pencil, "TM" in upper 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, "Windsor June 25 - 62" in upper left on recto; Inscribed by hand in pencil, "too small" in center on recto.
Not On View

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