The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming, Thomas Moran

Thomas Moran (American, 1837–1926) 

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming, 1904 

Oil on canvas 

Gift of The Bank of Hawaii, 1970 (3701.1) 

A late work in the 19th-century American landscape tradition, Thomas Moran’s sweeping view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River celebrates the primeval wilderness of the American West. Moran conceived this composition of awe-inspiring breadth and depth from a vantage point (still accessible today) on the canyon’s south rim, looking out over the deep chasm to the Lower Falls in the distance. Although the artist made several journeys west to sketch his subjects on the spot, this depiction of America's first national park is not dryly topographical but instead recreates, as Moran put it, the "stupendous and remarkable manifestations of nature's forces." Of special interest to the painter was the play of light on the canyon walls, for Moran reportedly believed that its colors were "beyond the reach of human art."