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On the Susquehanna / Thomas Moran


In On the Susquehanna, Thomas Moran deftly captures a pleasant day spent out of doors, with the two figures perched on the rock in the foreground drawing the viewer into the scene.1 The standing figure casts his fishing line out into the placid, sun-dappled waters of the Susquehanna, while his companion lazily reclines nearby, gazing at the magnificent tree on the opposite shore. There is a timeless quality to the image, and if it were not for the title indicating the location, the two young men could be on almost any river, anywhere.

The motif of young people relaxing under the open skies is reminiscent of Moran’s field sketches, such as Hastings (13.900). Although the locations, the topography, and the actions of the figures differ, figural groups such as these provide visual interest, help establish scale and perspective, and invite the viewer into the scene. Once drawn in, we can create our own narrative while exploring Moran’s portrayal of this glorious landscape.

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

1 On the Susquehanna is a lithograph, a printmaking process Moran worked in for about ten years, beginning around 1859 and culminating with a series created for and printed by James McGuigan of Philadelphia; see T. Victoria Hansen, “Thomas Moran and Nineteenth-Century Printmaking,” 16. On the Susquehanna is one of the McGuigan prints, and Gilcrease owns four others: Solitude (14.635), In the Forest of the Wissahickon (14.634d), Bay of Baiae, Naples (14.637d), and Desolation (14.636). By stylistic comparison to Solitude, Nancy Friese dates Desolation to 1869 and includes it in the McGuigan group; see Morand and Friese, The Prints of Thomas Moran, 72.

Curatorial Remarks

Crayon lithograph with scraping. Sandra Pauly, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Moran Collection Research 3.17.22

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On the Susquehanna
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Hudson River School
printing ink on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.342- 0.360 mm Chine-collé. Grey appliqué adhered to light cream, heavy weight bristol paper. Soft cotton feel and smooth texture
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1426.638; 20779
Not On View

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