The Sounding Sea: The Art of Edward, Thomas & Mary Nimmo Moran

229 Main Street, East Hampton, NY 11937
An East Hampton Historical Society museum
info@easthamptonhistory.org


The Civil War wounded the soul of America. The war was cataclysmic. Americans longed for a new era of pride, prosperity, and optimism. Artists and writers looked toward the wild places in nature that could symbolize a pure and new America. The beauty of our natural heritage became the national metaphor for healing.

One of the most powerful subjects that these artists turned to was the sea. It was the ocean's multiple personalities that lured artists to portray it in its many roles. The sea can be operatic in its fury or poetic when it is placid and alluring. 19th century artists followed our coastlines from north to south. The oceans offered both pleasure and profit.

As Industry bolstered the affluence of our coastal cities, new tides of immigrants crossed the oceans to supply the needed work force for America's factories and farm fields.

The Moran family, from Bolton near the English city of Lancaster, made their move to America in two trips. Edward and Thomas Moran's father arrived at the port of Philadelphia 1n 1842 and set-up a weaving mill in Cohocksink, Pennsylvania. Edward Moran age 15 and his brother Thomas age 7, travelled with their five siblings, mother and grandmother to Philadelphia in 1844 to join him. Mary Nimmo, who was born in Strathaven, Scotland, set sail for America with her brother and widowed father in 1847, when she was 5 years old. They settled in Cresentville, a weaving community near Philadelphia. She met Thomas Moran by 1859, they corresponded, they married in 1863.

This exhibition follows the careers of three members of one of America's most illustrious artistic families. Within three generations there were almost a dozen artists in the family, by birth or marriage. We look at the paintings of Edward Moran, paintings and etching by Thomas Moran and the etchings of Mary Nimmo Moran. We string together this trio of artists, as we examine their seascapes. When they took-up their brushes and etching needles, the Morans captured the power of the sounding sea for posterity.