American, born England,
North America, American
20 1/8 in. x 30 1/4 in. (51.12 cm x 76.84 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection
Currently On View
Thomas Moran's landscape paintings of the American West are some of this country's most important historical documents. These works, and reproductions of them, inspired nineteenth-century Americans to appreciate the vastness of the continent and the potential for expansion of the still evolving republic.
This early painting by Moran was produced when he was just beginning his career and while he lived in Philadelphia. Here he worked with reference to the pivotal teachings of the English art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) whose "Modern Painters" (1843–60) explained and exalted the painter J.M.W. Turner’s (English, 1775-1851) art as the most truthful representation of nature and natural forms. The meticulous rendering of the flowering plants, grasses, and rock formations in the foreground of "Dusk Wings" indicates Moran’s response to Ruskin’s instruction. In subject, "Dusk Wings" relates to a group of Moran's forest interiors from the 1860s that include solitary figures within landscape settings. These paintings depict scenery of the Eastern United States, particularly rural areas around Philadelphia.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 15, p. 62.