Thomas Moran ranks as one of America’s greatest landscape painters. His work has been the subject of a steady stream of exhibitions and publications. He is best known for his depictions of the Far West, particularly of the Grand Canyon. Moran was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, and emigrated to America with his family in 1844. After a brief period in Baltimore the family settled in Philadelphia, where Moran served a three year apprenticeship in the mid-1850s with the engraving firm of Scattergood and Telfer. Encouraged by his artist brother Edward and the landscape painter James Hamilton, he started to work in oil and watercolor and was soon exhibiting scenic and imaginary landscapes at the annual showing's of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. During the summer of 1860, Moran traveled to the Lake Superior region of Michigan to sketch in the area of Pictured Rocks. The following year he traveled to England to study the landscapes of James M. W. Turner and partly followed the sketching tour Turner had made along the southern coast of England and in Scotland.
His colors are brilliant and striking. In this he followed the example of Turner, whom he felt falsified "the color of any object in his picture in order to produce what he considered to be a harmonious whole" (quoted in George W. Sheldon, "American Painters", p. 124).