Columbia Museum of Art presents a view of Venice by Thomas Moran

Columbia Museum of Art presents a view of Venice by Thomas Moran. Entitled The Grand Canal, Venice, Moran’s sweeping view of this famous Italian city is a panorama of sunlight and color poured over some of the world’s most romantic architecture. The painting is on view through January 2013.

Thomas Moran Columbia Museum of Art

The owners (also CMA donors) of this Thomas Moran painting weren’t expecting to see it here either. They asked their friends in Missouri to pick up and bring to Columbia a “small pastel of Notre Dame,” which was “leaning against the wall of the bedroom” in the owner’s Missouri home. Apparently, the friends only heard, “painting leaning against bedroom wall.” They found a painting in that position, got it into the backseat of their Toyota with no room to spare, and delivered it the next day. The owners were shocked to see the star of their art collection emerge from the car. Not about to risk their prized possession’s return to Missouri in their friends’ car or another night in a hotel parking lot, the owners asked CMA Chief Curator Will South if he could display it for museum visitors for a while. And of course, South was delighted to comply.

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York who is considered one of the premier painters of the American landscape. In 1886, Moran auctioned off the unsold works in his studio in preparation for a trip to Europe. He wrote to his wife, Mary: “Venice is all, and more, than travelers have reported of it. It is wonderful. I shall make no attempt at description but will tell you when I get back.” Moran was so enthralled with Venice that on his second visit he bought poet Robert Browning’s gondola and had it shipped home to East Hampton, Long Island.

In this view of Venice, Moran turns the city into a dreamlike space of shimmering atmosphere and brilliant, iridescent color. Moran’s level of skill in representing sky, water, architecture and the interplay of light among all these things is so remarkable that Moran is regarded as one of the greatest painters in American art. –