The Golden Hour
41.9 cm x 52.4 cm x 7.6 cm (16 1/2 in. x 20 5/8 in. x 3 in.)
(Lancashire, England, 1837 - 1926, Santa Barbara, California)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Bequest of C.R. Smith, 1991
Thomas Moran’s romanticized view of the towering cliffs of the Green River in southwestern Wyoming is notable for the operatic power of its imagery, despite the picture’s modest scale. An impossibly fiery sunset suffuses the jagged outcroppings in a golden light that exaggerates the glories and grandeur of nature. Americans back east were eager to discover the uninhabited western landscape through paintings like this and through reproductions. To make an even more compelling picture, Moran took certain liberties with features of the undeniably spectacular landscapes he observed on his trips to Wyoming during the summers of 1871 and 1872. Loosely and impressionistically painted, The Golden Hour is neither a major nor a typical work by Moran, but its magical intensity successfully communicates the artist’s deep fondness for the first western site he ever sketched.