EDWARD MORAN, American (1829-1901), Shipping at Sunset, oil on canvas, 11 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches
Shipping at Sunset
oil on canvas
signed lower left "Edward Moran"
11 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches
Provenance: Private Collection, New York, New York.
Framed dimensions: 18 1/2 x 26 1/4 x 3 inches
Edward Moran (1829-1901) was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1829. At the age of fifteen, Moran immigrated with his family to the United States. He first studied landscape and marine painting in Philadelphia and later returned to England to study at the Royal Academy in London. In 1871 he moved to New York City, which would, except for a brief move to France in the late 1870s, thenceforth be his primary city of residence.
Today, Thomas Moran is the best known of the large Moran family of artists, including brothers John, a landscape photographer, and Peter, an animal painter. Yet it was Edward who first left the family's traditional occupation of weaving, and it was he who first taught Thomas and Peter the rudiments of painting and shared his studio with them.
Working in Philadelphia in the 1850s, Edward Moran studied with Paul Weber, a popular teacher of Düsseldorf-school landscape painting whose students included William Trost Richards and William S. Haseltine, but the marine painter James Hamilton had a greater influence on Moran's work.
Throughout the 1860s Moran exhibited at venues in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Before settling in New York, and for the nearly thirty years that he lived there, Moran painted the city's harbor. At the time, it was the busiest harbor in the United States, providing Moran with inspiration for many paintings, with the port seen at different times of day and in a variety of weather conditions.
On an 1861 trip to England, Thomas and Edward Moran discovered the work of J. M. W. Turner, and the pioneering English painter's sublime, light-filled canvases became the largest influence on both brothers' work. The frequency of marine subjects in Turner's oeuvre may have also influenced Edward Moran's interest in harbor scenes, which became his primary focus after moving to New York in 1872.
In 1888 Moran published "Hints for Practical Study of Marine Painting" in the Art Amateur. His most ambitious endeavor was the creation of thirteen works entitled The Edward Moran Series of Historical Paintings Representing Important Epochs in the Maritime History of the United States, which he completed in 1898. At the time of his death in 1901, it was written that "Few artists have painted more charming landscapes or better cattle pieces, and none, perhaps, have surpassed him as a painter of marines. It is as a painter of seascapes, doubtless, that he will live in fame." 
Shipping at Sunset depicts three men in a rowboat heading away from a schooner in the middle ground. A tugboat passes another schooner in the right distance, and several sails can be seen on the horizon. The distant ships are rendered insubstantial by the brilliance of the setting sun, which glints on the water and tints the clouds in hues ranging from gold to purple. The appealing pastel palette also includes rosy hues in the clouds and waves and the last hints of a blue sky at the top of the composition. Moran's lightness of touch conveys the impression of moving water and lends the picture a relaxed mood.
Moran's work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Butler Institute of American Art, Chrysler Museum, National Museum of American Art, United States Naval Academy, Denver Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
 Hugh W. Coleman, "Passing of a Famous Artist, Edward Moran," (Brush and Pencil, vol. 8, no. 4, July 1901), p. 188.