Sunset, La Rita, New Mexico
Like Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Moran was an English immigrant who came to America with his family at an early age. The most famous of the 3 Moran brothers who pursued careers in art, Thomas was one of the earliest professional artists to visit the American West, often traveling with U.S. Army Geographical Survey parties. His paintings of Yellowstone Park helped inspire Congress to pass the National Parks Act. As a later member of the Hudson River School, Moran had access to more pigments than earlier painters like Cole, which made possible the vivid colors of "Sunset, La Rita, New Mexico". He was also highly influenced in this work by the Luminist movement which emphasized a serene and numinous quality of light in their works and used smaller compositions with more horizontal elements than the Hudson River School.