Artist John Moran

For those who may not know me, I LOVE Art. I think my love of art is what got me into creating this site, because honestly, Vaudeville is art in a sense. It’s the art of making people laugh, or cry or feel moved in their hearts. But I also love Fine art.  I remember when I was young and would visit my Grandmom, I’d always stand there and admire the paintings that she had in her house.  She’d tell me stories about each painting that she inherited them from her mom and dad. Her main painting that she adored the most was a very large 24×36 oil painting by John Moran. and Oh how I loved that painting! If you’re not in the art field yourself, you probably wouldn’t know who John Moran is, but you may know his brother, Thomas Moran.

President Barack Obama meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 5, 2009. Thomas Moran’s painting is visible on the far right. Source: Wikipedia and Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
That’s right, his brother’s painting is in the White House! The painting on the far right was painted by Thomas Moran. It’s titled “The Three Tetons” (1895). Thomas Moran was an American painter and printmaker in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. His brothers Edward (1829–1901), John (1831–1902) and Peter (1841–1914), were also active artists. John Moran was most known for his photography during the 1860s-1870s.  He was he first photographer to state that Photography is also an art. In 1871 Moran replaced Timothy O’Sullivan as the official photographer for the second U.S. expedition, to survey the possible construction of a canal across the Isthmus of Darien in Panama. “Despite the oppressive heat and humidity in which he had to work, Moran conveyed in his photograph the beauty of this tropical landscape at the terminus of the proposed canal.”  Source

I found three of this photographs online listed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


So, back to my Grandmom’s painting by John Moran. If John Moran was a photographer, then why did my grandmom have a painting done by him? Well, it turns out that artists who dabble in photography or other art fields, also usually try to paint as well. (Heck, I’ve done the same thing myself!) And that’s exactly what my grandmom had.

Eventually I believe I got my secret wish sent down to me from heaven and her painting was passed onto me in 2014. I received the painting by chance actually, but deep down I believe this is how it was suppose to happen. When my Gradmom’s health starting failing her, she moved in with my aunt and uncle, and the painting was put into storage. It wasn’t until after she passed away that my aunt discovered that the painting had gotten quite damaged. And she asked me if I would be interested in having it, since it was an heirloom.

John moran 2
Damage done to our beloved moran painting.

The painting was dirty and torn in many places, I cried when I saw it. And I know deep down that my grandmom would have cried too. I knew that I had to do something about this painting, so I took it over and had it restored and repaired by a man in Boston who sometimes appears on the PBS’s Antique Road Show. And here was the result:

John moran

The colors were brighter, and the artist did a phenomenal job on the patch job and touch ups! I was thrilled, and I’m sure that Grandmom would be too! After I had this restoration done, I realized that this painting was also not your usual painting of American Indians in 1870’s America that for years my grandmom and I believed it to be. After researching John Moran and his photographs, I now believe that this painting may just well be a painting of his time surveying the Isthmus of Darien in Panama. Here is the photo that made me realize that maybe this was from his Darien exposition:

darien 1
Great Falls, Limon River. Courtsy of :

This is a photo that he took of the Great Falls on the Limon River in Panama. A lot of the foliage in his painting is also tropical as well, which says to me not “American Indian” but much more southern. Of coarse, this is coming from someone with a Graphic Design degree, but I find that my hunches are usually right when it comes to art. 🙂



One thought on “Artist John Moran

  1. How wonderful that you rescued your beloved painting and had it restored beautifully. I am also amazed that his brother’s painting is hanging in the White House and that you spotted it. What story! Pauline.


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