One of his renowned landscape paintings was the work titled, ‘Shoshone Falls on the Snake River’. The Shoshone Falls is on the Snake River that runs through southern Idaho in the United States. Some compared the falls to the Niagara Falls in the East. Because of this they often referred to the Shoshone Falls as the ‘Niagara of the West’. This is despite them being taller by 45 feet. Moran’s painting of the ‘Shoshone Falls on the Snake River’ is an oil on canvas work. It measures roughly 6-foot-by-11-foot. The picture is signed ‘TMoran. N.A. 1900’.

Moran’s painting of the Shoshone Falls in 1900 was not the first time he used them as the theme for one of his works. During his travels, he visited the Shoshone Falls on more than one occasion. Another of his works depicting the falls was a watercolour painting he completed in 1875. He gave it the title ‘Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho’.

Anyone looking at the painting of the ‘Shoshone Falls on the Snake River’ will see an image that is dark and full of energy. It shows a powerful torrent of white water flowing over a rim that’s nearly 1,000 wide and crashing down to the ground below. The waterfall takes up most of the painting and provides the focus for the viewer. Mist and water are rising from below to blend with the clouds and sunlight. All of this obscures the nearby cliffs. Along with the cloudy sky in the picture, Moran gives viewers the appearance that something strong and powerful is going to happen.

Thomas Moran was a painter who travelled extensively around America and abroad. His influence and expertise meant that, on his death, others gave him the title of ‘Dean of American Landscape Painters.’ His paintings of the American West sought to show its vastness. Compared to other artists of the period, his large landscape paintings opened up the American west to others. It allowed those living on the east coast the chance to experience the wilderness of the west. Today, Moran’s painting of the ‘Shoshone Falls on the Snake River’ is on view to the public at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The museum received the painting as a gift from the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation in 1955.

Shoshone Falls on the Snake River in Detail Thomas Moran