The painting, titled Cascade Falls, Yosemite, painted in 1905, sold for $946,000.
But why so much? A lot of it has to do with the legendary artist himself. Moran passed away in 1926, but his legacy still lives on. He has several pieces of art in the National Museum of Wildlife Art outside of Jackson, and has even had a piece in the Oval Office of the White House. Now, almost a century after his death, his artwork is still selling for close to a million dollars.
What made him such a legendary artist you ask? Moran, with the help of photographer William H. Jackson, were some of the first artists to step foot into what is now Yellowstone National Park.
Together, the two played a large role in showing the eastern United States what the west was all about. Before them, mountain men and fur trappers told stories of boiling water shooting out of the ground, pristine mountainscapes with needle-like summits, and colorful hot springs with hues of blue, yellow, and orange. But everyone thought these men were crazy and full of tall tales. That was until the two artists made proof of the wonders in Yellowstone and presented their work in front of the United States Congress.
You see, the two worked as a duo. Moran needed Jackson to prove his paintings were based on real scenes (many painters exaggerated their paintings), while Jackson needed Moran to show the beautiful colors of the geothermal features and mountainscapes of Yellowstone (before the age of colored photos).
It was their art that prompted Congress to protect the unique land full of wonders by designating Yellowstone as the United State’s first national park on March 1, 1872.
Moran and Jackson helped lay the foundation of the national park system by depicting the beauty of the west. Without them, who knows what Yellowstone, or any national park, would be like today.
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