Gilcrease Museum is temporarily closed for construction.

Get the Full Story

Print C: Grand Cañon of the Colorado River, Arizona / Thomas Moran


Thomas Moran’s involvement in a variety of commercial enterprises included working with the publishers of chromolithographs and the companies that used their services. Besides providing the artist with supplemental income, chromolithographs brought Moran’s work to an extensive audience.1 In 1892, the Santa Fe Railroad contracted with the American Lithograph Company and lithographer Gustave H. Buek (1850–1927), to produce a chromolithograph after a painting to be created by Moran.2

The Santa Fe Railroad had a long-standing working relationship with Moran, and in return for train fare for his western excursions, Moran agreed to sign over the copyright for an oil painting of his choosing. The railroad neither commissioned nor owned the painting; it simply had the right to reproduce it for commercial purposes. Moran decided to give the railroad reproduction rights to his 1892 Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, which is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Buek’s commission to create a chromolithograph based on that painting was contingent upon Moran’s approval of the final product.3

Buek knew of the artist’s success as a lithographer and etcher; thus, he approached Moran with considerable trepidation for the final endorsement. Buek later stated: “No man could have received a younger man with greater cordiality than he received me.”4 Moran approved the chromolithograph, and the two men became friends. The image proved a success for the Santa Fe Railroad as well, which used the chromolithograph for advertising campaigns for over a decade and distributed it throughout the United States.5

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

1 For more on Moran’s commercial work, see The Giantess (02.1691), Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior (15.399), and Springville Cañon (15.449).
2 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 273–74, 294.
3 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 273–74, 294. See also Kinsey, Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West, 132–37. The Philadelphia Museum of Art received the painting as a gift from Graeme Lorimor, the son of George Lorimor. The senior Lorimor purchased the painting in 1919 for the offices of the Saturdy Evening Post, for which he was editor. See 38.815 in the Gilcrease Archives for letter from George Lorimor to Thomas Moran.
4 Buek, “Thomas Moran, N.A.,” 30.
5 Wilkins, Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains, 273–74, 294. In 1900, Buek bought a home in East Hampton, Long Island, near Moran’s home and studio. After the death of his wife, artist Mary Nimmo Moran (1847–1899), Moran traveled extensively but returned occasionally to East Hampton. Buek became a valued neighbor and friend of both the artist and his daughter Ruth.

You may be interested in...

Print C: Grand Cañon of the Colorado River, Arizona
Thomas Moran (Artist)
Gustave H. Buek (Lithographer)
G. H. Bueck & Co. (Publisher)
Hudson River School
printing ink on paper
Landscape; single-sided 0.237- 0.328 mm Cream, wove, smooth paper
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
1626.221.C; 33857
Not On View

Our Online Collections site is a work in progress. If you have information about this item that may be of assistance, please contact us.