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National Gallery of Art Photo 2017-05-28 16:13

Thomas Moran saw the wondrous landscape that the world would come to know as Yellowstone National Park for the first time in the summer of 1871. He had journeyed west to join F. V. Hayden's survey expedition bound for a region rumored to contain steaming geysers and boiling mud pots. Traveling by train and stagecoach, he met William Henry Jackson, a young photographer hired by Hayden. Moran and Jackson quickly became a team, working side-by-side to select subjects for photographs and sketches. Hayden, Moran, and Jackson returned east in the fall of 1871. Required to submit a report to Congress, Hayden supplemented his survey data with Jackson's photographs and Moran's watercolors--the only color images available. With unprecedented speed, Congress approved a bill declaring Yellowstone the nation's first national park in the spring of 1872. Moran's watercolors of Yellowstone were so admired that the artist received many invitations to join expeditions to western territories. In 1873 William Henry Jackson photographed Colorado's "Mountain of the Holy Cross." When Moran saw the photograph, he recognized a subject perfectly suited to his brush. Based on his watercolor, how do you think the artist felt about this place? Thomas Moran, "Mountain of the Holy Cross," 1890, watercolor and gouache over graphite on paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Avalon Fund, Florian Carr Fund, Barbara and Jack Kay Fund, Gift of Max and Heidi Berry and Veverka Family Foundation Fund