[New York: James Sutton & Co., 1874]. Oil chromolithograph on heavy board, 10 3/4 x 15 1/2 inches, with facsimile of original label on the verso reading: "Aldine Chromo for 1874." Minor soiling, slightly darkened. Very good. Framed. Item #WRCAM55681
A striking chromolithograph of the Cliffs of Green River, Wyoming Territory, made to exactly replicate an oil painting by Thomas Moran and constituting the earliest example of chromolithography produced after Moran's work. This is among the earliest western publications of Moran, preceding his work for Hayden's famed Yellowstone Park portfolio by two years, and was produced by the same chromolithographer, Louis Prang - the greatest color printer of his day. This chromolithograph was originally issued as one of a pair, along with another titled, THE WHITE MOUNTAINS - NEW HAMPSHIRE. The origin of these print has been little known, but they were produced as a free gift for subscribers to an art periodical called THE ALDINE, published by James Sutton & Company of New York. The journal touted the gift thusly: "Every subscriber to THE ALDINE for the year 1874 will receive a pair of chromos. The original pictures were painted in oil for the publishers of THE ALDINE by Thomas Moran....The subjects were chosen to represent 'The East' and 'The West.' One is a view in the White Mountains, New Hampshire; the other gives the Cliffs of Green River, Wyoming Territory. The difference in the nature of the scenes themselves is a pleasing contrast, and affords a good display of the artist's scope and coloring. The chromos are each worked from thirty distinct plates, and are in size and appearance exact facsimiles of the originals." In the same notice to ALDINE subscribers, Moran is quoted as approving of the work, writing that "I am delighted with the proofs in color of your chromos. They are wonderfully successful representations by mechanical processes of the original paintings" (both quoted in Kinsey). Records show that Moran apparently planned a "North" view as well for the ALDINE series, showing a Lake Superior scene, but it was never published. According to the label on the verso of the Green River print (a facsimile of the original label), "Green River is in Wyoming Territory. It is the main branch of the Colorado River, and the scene of Mr. Moran's picture is laid in the heart of the Great American Desert directly on the line of the Union Pacific Railroad. The colors as seen in Nature have been faithfully rendered by Mr. Moran, and are characteristic of the country, where Nature seems to delight in novel effects. Notwithstanding its brilliancy, it is highly artistic in form and color, and not at all exaggerated." A lovely and iconic Western American scene, showcasing the work of one of America's greatest landscape artists, and produced in a native American art form by the foremost color printer of his day. Joni L. Kinsey, THOMAS MORAN'S WEST: CHROMOLITHOGRAPHY, HIGH ART, AND POPULAR TASTE (Lawrence, Ks. 2006), pp.68-70.