Skip to Main Content
Sheer, vertical, cliffs, brightly lit in cream white and rust orange by the low sun, tower over a band of people riding horses into the distance in this long, horizontal landscape painting. The glowing cliffs dominate the upper right quadrant of the painting. They lighten from burnt orange along the jagged tops to flame orange down the steep sides, and are and warm, parchment white near the earth. One tall, narrow promontory to our right looms over a range of lower, rounded cliffs. As the cliffs move into the distance, they are shrouded with a lavender-purple haze. The land closest to us dips into a shallow valley at the bottom center of the composition, leading away from us. The dirt-packed earth is dotted with pine-green, scrubby bushes and vegetation and a grove of low, gnarled trees a short distance to our right. One chestnut-brown horse walks along the path at the bottom center of the composition, lagging behind a cluster of at least two dozen horses and riders winding into the distance. The horses range from ivory white to tawny brown and charcoal gray. The riders are loosely painted so some details are indistinct, but they all seem to have brown skin and dark hair. They wear feathered headdresses and garments in teal blue, fawn brown, or golden yellow. They ride over a low hill toward a crystal-blue river, and then back along a flat expanse toward a row of miniscule, triangular tepees lining the horizon in the deep distance. The horizon comes halfway up the composition, and the tepees are backed by a row of rose-pink, flat-topped cliffs. A pale yellow disk hangs low in the sky, over the distant cliffs. The sky above deepens from soft, lilac purple along the horizon to ice and sapphire blue along the top. A few wispy clouds are burnished orange in the sunlight. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower right corner, “TYMoran 1881,” with the T, Y, and M overlapping to make a monogram.

Thomas Moran, Green River Cliffs, Wyoming, 1881, oil on canvas, Gift of the Milligan and Thomson Families, 2011.2.1

Gallery Talk: The Land Holds Many Meanings

Collection Perspectives

Focus: The Collection

  • Saturday, January 6, 2024
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • West Building, Main Floor - Rotunda
  • Talks
  • In-person

Join us for this gallery talk featuring different perspectives on nineteenth-century American landscape painting, including works by Thomas Cole, George Inness, Thomas Moran, and Albert Bierstadt. Led by senior educator Nathalie Ryan.