Thomas Moran's West: Chromolithography, High Art, and Popular Taste

Kinsey, Joni L.

Published by Univ Pr of Kansas
ISBN 10: 0700614133 / ISBN 13: 9780700614134
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Synopsis: Watercolor images of Yellowstone Park painted in the early 1870s by artist Thomas Moran shifted America's gaze westward. Published as a portfolio of chromolithographs by Boston lithographer Louis Prang, these brilliant reproductions—with a companion text on Yellowstone geology by explorer Ferdinand Hayden—were the first color images of our first national park widely available to the general public. As such, they helped shape America's growing fascination with the West.

The Yellowstone National Park portfolio, comprising nine images of Yellowstone and six of other sites, is also now regarded as the finest example of chromolithography ever produced. Yet today these images are less well known than Moran's dramatic oil paintings and are usually admired merely as curiosities of an obsolete technology.

Joni Kinsey, a preeminent authority on Moran, shows that these and other chromolithographs by the artist in fact had an important place in American visual culture and were a vital part of the artist's career. Thomas Moran's West reproduces this renowned collection, along with two dozen other color plates and over 100 black-and-white illustrations, to recapture their impact on the American imagination.

Chromolithography was outmoded by 1900 but represented an important transition in American art. Whereas previously published images of the West had been black-and-white engravings, Moran's chromolithographs had the vivid beauty of high art but could be acquired by individuals who couldn't afford originals. Today the prints are highly valued by collectors, who will appreciate seeing them with related field sketches and watercolors—and in some instances rare printer's proofs from Joslyn Art Museum. Kinsey describes the making and popularity of "chromos," chronicles the debates over their artistic legitimacy, and tells how this medium competed with other forms of picture-making in the late nineteenth century. She also explores Moran's relationship with Prang and thoroughly analyzes the Yellowstone images—including those held back from publication.

Both a visual feast and an authoritative treatise, Thomas Moran's West gives us breath-taking images of unspoiled wilderness as it sheds new light on how artistic portrayals of the West contributed to our national identity.

From the Back Cover: "As Kinsey points out, 'chromolithographs offer important lessons in the role of visual technology in an increasingly modern society,' and Moran's treatment of Yellowstone (and other regions in the West) provides insight into how the American West was viewed, and on what terms, in the post-Civil War era. . . . Given the popularity of Western art, the very high esteem in which Moran is held among art historians and collectors, and Kinsey's excellent reputation as a scholar, this book should do very well. . . . A valuable contribution."--Erika Doss, author of Twentieth-Century American Art

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Title: Thomas Moran's West: Chromolithography, High...
Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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