There are many ways in which the historical relevance of a piece of art can be measured, and this gargantuan oil on canvas manages to leave its mark on many of them. First of all, for its sheer size, measuring over eighty inches in height, a little over two meters, by a hundred and forty-four in length, just under two meters and seventy centimeters. Few are the works by Thomas Moran that reach such a great size, although the same is not true for other Hudson River School artists like Bierstadt or Cole.
Second, one should always appreciate the influence of a work on society, which in this case was that of being among the main influencers on the creation of Yellowstone National Park by the United States government. Moran’s sketches and paintings of the trip undertaken alongside the Hayden Expedition in 1871 were used as evidence brought before the Congress when the creation of the park was being considered.
Such was the impact caused by Moran’s art in the chambers that, after the creation of the park was decided, this painting was purchased to hang in the Capitol for the hefty sum of ten thousand dollars, equivalent to roughly two hundred thousand dollars in today’s economy. Never before had an American artwork, albeit painted by a British artist, been sold for such an amount, and the piece has since been loaned to the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the U. S. Department of Interior.
As to the painting itself, produced in 1872, right after Moran’s return from the Yellowstone region, it is a true example of the sublime. From a vantage point high in the mountains, it focuses on Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls, below which the river flows crystal blue. Framing it, the Grand Canyon rises on both sides of the image, bathed in a motley of golden sunlight and cool shade.
Standing in that shade, a small group of people is taking in the greatness of the panorama. They are usually considered to be Moran himself, the explorer Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden and their Native American guide. More than paying homage to his travel mates, the artist seems to have included them for scale, emphasizing the awe-inspiring magnitude of the sight. By doing so, Moran resonates with the idea that beauty is only truly beautiful if it can be observed.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.