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Print C: A City Farm, New York / Mary Nimmo Moran


Urban scenes are an anomaly in the etched works of Mary Nimmo Moran, but A City Farm, New York is not your typical view of metropolitan life. In the foreground, a figure leads a horse-drawn cart laden with produce, and the field from which such bounty came stretches out behind them. Between the rows of what appear to be cabbages, several figures bend to their work of tending the crop. A rambling series of rustic buildings suggests additions to the original homestead. These older structures serve as a line of demarcation separating farm from city. The artist employed a light hand to delineate the orderly line of townhomes springing up all around this city farm.

Nimmo Moran created the etching in 1881, when she and her husband, the artist Thomas Moran (1837–1926), lived at 166 West 55th Street, near Central Park. The couple resided there while they built their home and studio in East Hampton, Long Island.1 This small slice of rural life amid the city, which Nimmo Moran recorded so faithfully here, may suggest the artist’s longing for the countryside. The Morans’ new home on Long Island would offer her a more pastoral lifestyle, which she often depicted in her etched works of East Hampton, such as Under the Oaks — Georgica Pond (14.123a).

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

1 Morand and Friese, Prints of Nature, 7. Thomas Moran sketched a similar scene entitled Shanty Town (1885, Detroit Institute of Arts, 69.471). The compositions are almost identical, which raises several questions. Moran sometimes misdated his drawings, and it is possible Nimmo Moran created the etching after his sketch but decided to give it a different title. It would be odd for him to create a drawing after one of her prints, but perhaps not out of the question. Art historian Shannon Vittoria notes Moran believed Nimmo Moran’s City Farm appeared in Harper’s Weekly, although Vittoria could not find the work reproduced in the publication. Vittoria, “Nature and Nostalgia in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran,” 271. Moran’s acknowledgment of City Farm as his wife’s work, however, suggests it was indeed her original composition. Why he would create a sketch after it remains a mystery, although perhaps he was helping her prepare for a possible illustration in Harper’s Weekly.

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Print C: A City Farm, New York
Mary Nimmo Moran (Artist)
printing ink on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.167- 0.169 mm Cream, Japan paper. Smooth, slightly mottled surface with clumped fibers in transmitted light.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1426.105c; 10431
Not On View

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