Born in Bolton, Lancaster, in England, Thomas Moran was a painter and printmaker. His brothers, Edward, John and Peter were also artists, and he himself actually studied under Edward. In the mid 1800’s, the Moran family emigrated from England, and in 1844 settled in Philadelphia, where Thomas began his career as an illustrator.
Between the ages of 16 and 19, Moran was apprenticed to the Philadelphia wood engraving firm, Scattergood & Telfer. He then began to paint more seriously in watercolor and expanded his work as an illustrator. His brother Edward, who was an associate of James Hamilton, the successful marine painter, guided, encouraged and helped Moran during this time.
In the 1860’s, Moran produced lithographs of the landscapes around the Great Lakes. While in London in 1862, the first of many return trips to the land of his birth, Moran was introduced to the work of J.M.W. Turner, which remained a vital influence on him throughout his career.
With his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran, who was also an etcher and landscape painter, Moran participated in the Etching Revival, scraping fresh and romantic landscapes and reproductive etchings, such as Conway Castle, after J.M.W. Turner which was done in 1879.
During the 1870’s and 1880’s, Moran’s designs for wood-engraved illustrations appeared in most of the major magazines of the time, as well as gift books, which greatly added to his success and popularity.