Lower Geyser Basin, 1873
Charles Darwin and his circle viewed nature as perpetually shifting and unstable. It was this dynamic vision which inspired many artists of the later nineteenth century, including Thomas Moran. In the summer of 1871, he joined Ferdinand Hayden’s Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, as this team carried out a reconnaissance of the Yellowstone region. In this sulfurous, volcanic area, he could see a landscape actually in process of creation. Moran’s delicate watercolours show that, while he took inspiration from J. M. W. Turner, his immediate response was to the strange, elemental sight of spouting geysers and bubbling mud pots, which he recreated in translucent washes of colour evoking the transitory effects of light and steam.
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma