Tower Falls, Yellowstone Thomas Moran Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Tower Falls, Yellowstone by Thomas Moran is a watercolor and gouache over graphite on blue paper painting from 1872-76. The painting's dimensions are 36.2 × 26.4 cm and the painting is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, USA, aand is not on view to the public at present.

The painting is typical of the artist's landscapes, dramatic and unique; and this work is one of a number of paintings he created with Yellowstone National Park as a subject, he found the National Park's landscapes fascinating and visited a number of times, working with a local photographer to get the very best out of the landscape. This particular painting focuses on a towering pillar of rock beside the river rapids.

The painting starts with a foreground of rocky light sandy beach with a few small plants, looking onto the rushing water of the river towards the falls. A pile of large rocks stands in a dip on the beach close to the water. The waters are deep wide and swift, dark blue in colour. The force of the water makes the river look like sea, and it would be a brave sailor to take to such waters as the waves are big. Towards the centre and left of the painting the far shore starts, and rises up in jagged peaks. Smaller rocks but big enough to destroy any boat, line the shore.

The main pinnacle of rock, the feature, is close to the centre of the painting, it rises up sheer and jagged, hostile, unscalable, wide dark and solid lower down on the shore and tapering as it rises, with some grey as well as dark, looking a bit like the fang of some malevolent animal.

Next to the main pinnacle is a much shorter and more solid and stout rock peak, greyer in colour than its neighbour, and it looks as if at one time it had a similar spire, which has broken off at some point. Behind these another pinnacle is in the shadow, and as the waterfalls vanish round the bend and downwards, further rock formations and quite a substantial rock face can be seen. At the top of the painting are almost shadowed forms of tree crowns against a bright but sunless sky.