Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran
Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran
Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran

Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands by Thomas Moran

  • This exceptional watercolor was composed by the great American painter Thomas Moran
  • It was likely created for an engraving published in A Popular History of the United States
  • The work captures the legendary Henry Hudson on his exploration of the river that bears his name
  • Highly detailed with a stunning use of light, it embodies Moran's distinctive style
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Item No. 30-8888
Price: Available upon request
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Thomas Moran
1837-1926 | American

Henry Hudson in the Half Moon at the Highlands

Initialed "T.M." (lower left)
Watercolor on paper

This exceptional watercolor by the great American artist Thomas Moran captures the 17th-century adventures of the legendary Henry Hudson. Though best remembered as a painter of the Hudson River School, Moran was also a celebrated printmaker, and this highly detailed watercolor reveals his mastery of his craft. It was almost certainly created for an engraving by R. Hinshelwood, which was published in A Popular History of the United States by William Cullen Bryant and Sydney Howard Gay in 1876. Moran's ingenious use of grisaille, or grey monochromes, with white accents helped to ensure the work was suitable for black and white illustration. The minimalism of the palette also calls attention to Moran's remarkable attention to detail in the diminutive work, which is executed with his renowned eye for light and atmosphere.

In the work, Moran captures a dramatized moment during Hudson's exploration of the river that now bears his name. Aboard his ship Half Moon, Hudson and his crew first sailed down the river off of the Atlantic coast on September 3, 1609. They were hoping to find the Northwest Passage, a legendary waterway that would carry a ship from the Atlantic through to the Pacific. Just a few days after their journey began, the crew was set upon by a group of Native Americans, and one of his crewmen was killed by an arrow in his neck. It is likely this encounter that Moran deftly dramatizes in the present work, capturing the Half Moon firing on the boats of Native Americans that pursue her.

Thomas Moran was born in Lancashire, England, in 1837, though his family moved to America while he was still a young boy. He began his artistic career in Philadelphia as a teenager, working as an apprentice to the wood-engraving firm of Scattergood & Telfer. By the mid-1850s, he was drawing for the firm's illustrations rather than carving them. It was through the firm's books that Moran first encountered the work of J.M.W. Turner, and he became so enamored of his watercolors that he traveled to England in 1862 to view Turner's works in person. They would have a tremendous effect on the young artist.

A trip to Yellowstone in 1871 marked a turning point in his career, as numerous paintings and commissions resulted from his journey West. His reputation as a landscape painter established, he continued to travel extensively throughout his lifetime. Today, his works can be found in all of the major collections of American art, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).

Circa 1875

Paper: 7 1/8" high x 10 7/8" wide
Frame: 19 3/4" high x 23 3/4" wide

Provenance:
Estate of Samuel Marvin, Virginia, 1986
Jerry N. Showalter, Virginia
Private collection, Florida
Private collection, New York
specifications
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:America
Subject:Historical
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