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Print A: Landscape after Rousseau / Mary Nimmo Moran


In this etching, Mary Nimmo Moran captures the spirit of the works of the French Barbizon artists and one of the group’s founding members, Théodore Rousseau (1812–1867). We must look carefully for the figures bending to collect reeds at the edge of the pond, so skillfully are they integrated into the composition. This suggestion of the oneness of humanity with nature was a hallmark of the Barbizon group, and their imagery became popular with collectors in the second half of the nineteenth century as a reminder of a simpler life and an antidote to an increasingly industrialized world.

Nimmo Moran first encountered works by the Barbizon artists in 1866, when she and her husband, the artist Thomas Moran (1837–1926), went to Europe. They spent several months in Paris, taking side trips to Fontainebleau, which is thirty miles south of the city and the site of a royal hunting lodge encircled by extensive forests.1 A group of French artists had established themselves in the nearby town of Barbizon, where they concentrated on portraying the forests of Fontainebleau and the day-to-day life of the rural people. Noted for their dedication to the most basic elements of landscape painting—the trees, the grasses, the wetlands—the group came to be known as the Barbizon School. Although their work influenced Nimmo Moran throughout her career, her husband found it limiting as a means of artistic expression. He would have limited himself, however, had he not occasionally created humble landscapes that focused on the simple life, such as An Apple Orchard — East Hampton, L.I. (14.423).2

Twenty years after visiting Fontainebleau, Moran accepted a commission to provide illustrations for an auction catalogue of the Thomas Chapman collection, which included works by American artists and French Barbizon painters. Moran enlisted his wife’s help to complete the assignment, and she created Landscape after Rousseau.3 Nimmo Moran assisted her husband on a few other projects scholars can verify, such as illustrations for Picturesque California, which resulted in A California Forest (14.102b).

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

1 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 55–57.
2 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 55–57; Vittoria, “Nature and Nostalgia in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran,” 9, 50–53, 94.
3 Vittoria, “Nature and Nostalgia in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran,” 277. After reviewing the 1999 catalogue raisonné of Rousseau’s work (by Michel Schulman, Marie Bataillès, Virginie Sérafino), Vittoria could not identify the painting represented by Nimmo Moran’s etching. For the Chapman auction catalogue, Moran created Landscape (14.455), after George Inness; A Turkish Ruin (14.425), after Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña; and Cattle on the Coast (14.429), after Carleton Wiggins.

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Print A: Landscape after Rousseau
Mary Nimmo Moran (Artist)
Théodore Rousseau (After)
brown printing ink on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.298- 0.301 mm Light cream, laid, dandy-roll paper. Ribbed surface with even fiber distribution and horizontal chain lines in transmitted light.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1426.103A; 29477
Not On View

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