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AUCTION 19

139. MORAN, Thomas (after). The Transept, Kaibab Division, Grand Cañon An Amphitheater of the Second Order. [below neat line]:  Julius Bien & Co. Lith. [upper left above neat line]:  United States Geological Survey [upper right above neat line]:  The Grand Cañon District. Atlas Sheet XVIII.  [New York, 1882].  Lithograph on tinted ground.  Neat line to neat line:  45.6 x 72.5 cm.  Vertical crease where formerly folded in atlas, slight abrasion and tear at lower center and a few small, closed tears in lower blank margin, otherwise fine, professionally backed.

     This major icon of the Grand Canyon is from the official government report of the first in-depth geological survey of the Grand Canyon. Rumsey Image No. 4713020.  The lithograph, variously attributed to William Henry Holmes or Thomas Moran, appeared in Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Tertiary History of the Grand Canon District By Captain Clarence E. Dutton (Washington, 1882), the index of which attributes the scene to Moran.  For more on the atlas, see:  Farquhar, Books of the Colorado River & the Grand Canyon 73:  “One of the greatest, if not the very greatest of all Grand Canyon books... The atlas, containing the superb panoramic views by William H. Holmes and a drawing by Thomas Moran, is a rich portfolio of art as well as maps and an exposition of geology.”  Miles & Reese, Depicting America 40.  Phillips, Atlases 1471.   The team assembled to carry out the survey included some exceptional men of science and art:  William Henry Holmes (artist-topographer), Clarence E. Dutton (scientist), and Jack Hilliers, the photographer.  Moran did not accompany the Dutton expedition, although he was with the earlier Hayden and Powell expeditions to the Grand Canyon.  Nevertheless, this one image was used here, possibly prepared for lithography by William Henry Holmes, about whom Goetzmann and Goetzmann wax eloquently (see Chapter 16, The West of the Imagination).  Lithographer Julius Bien is well known for his double-elephant chromolithographs from Audubon’s copper plates.  “Bien will always be remembered chiefly as the first great scientific cartographer in the United States” (Peters, America on Stone, p. 94).

     English-born artist Thomas Moran (1837-1926), in views such as this one and his later large paintings, was singularly responsible for the public’s conception of what the West was really like.  Although the paintings are not necessarily prized for their scientific and geological accuracy, they nevertheless, in a way rarely achieved since, conveyed an emotional and visceral sense of the wonders that awaited those who would journey to the area.  His depictions were instrumental in the decision establishing Yellowstone as a national park and in protecting other Western areas.  ($900-1,800)

Auction 19 Short Title List | Auction 19 Prices Realized

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