Thomas Moran was born at Bolton in Lancashire, England in 1837, the son of a hand-loom weaver. His family, including brothers Edward and Peter, immigrated to the United States in 1844. He grew up in Philadelphia where he was apprenticed to a wood engraver, sketching designs on the blocks. His older brother, Edward, who was an established landscape painter of art, prints and posters, provided Thomas with his first art lessons. Thomas worked initially with watercolor but soon turned to oil. He exhibited his first oil in 1858 and made his first sketching trip westward in 1860, to Lake Superior.
In 1871, Thomas found the subject matter for the rest of his life when he made his first trip to the West with F.V. Haydenís Yellowstone surveying expedition. He was to work in Yosemite the following year where additional visual impressions became the backdrop for many of his future art, prints and posters.
Moranís style is often likened to Turner and sometimes to Corot. His versatility and technical correctness enabled him to adopt the characteristics of many masters. A master of composition and pictorial effectiveness, his art, prints and postres are smooth and glossy. In contrast to Bierstadt and Thomas Hill, Moranís Western art, prints and posters, with the distinctive monogram developed in 1873 and the thumbprint affixed from 1911, remained in demand during his entire career. He remains internationally famous for his panoramic landscapes of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Mount Moran in the Tetons and Moran Point in Yosemite are both named after him.