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New loan to the Columbia Museum of Art arrives in an unexpected and peculiar way
A view of Venice, Italy, by the renowned painter, Thomas Moran.

COLUMBIA, SC.- A special and unexpected loan to the Columbia Museum of Art now provides visitors a view of Venice, Italy, by the renowned painter, Thomas Moran. Typically, the CMA researches and strategically plans for loans of art, but in this case, CMA Chief Curator Will South was surprised and delighted when the painting arrived at the Museum unforeseen.

The owners (also CMA donors) of this Thomas Moran painting weren’t expecting to see it here either. They asked their friends in Missouri to pick up and bring to Columbia a “small pastel of Notre Dame,” which was “leaning against the wall of the bedroom” in the owner’s Missouri home. Apparently, the friends only heard, “painting leaning against bedroom wall.” They found a painting in that position, got it into the backseat of their Toyota with no room to spare, and delivered it the next day. The owners were shocked to see the star of their art collection emerge from the car. Not about to risk their prized possession’s return to Missouri in their friends’ car or another night in a hotel parking lot, the owners asked CMA Chief Curator Will South if he could display it for museum visitors for a while. And of course, South was delighted to comply.

“This is a rare opportunity here in Columbia to see a Moran of this quality,” South said. “Local painters will marvel over its craftsmanship, students will be inspired to learn of its subject, and the average museum-goer will be overwhelmed by its beauty. We are extremely grateful to the owners for making it available to us for even a short time.”

Entitled The Grand Canal, Venice, Moran’s sweeping view of this famous Italian city is a panorama of sunlight and color poured over some of the world’s most romantic architecture. The painting is on view through January 2013.

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York who is considered one of the premier painters of the American landscape. In 1886, Moran auctioned off the unsold works in his studio in preparation for a trip to Europe. He wrote to his wife, Mary: "Venice is all, and more, than travelers have reported of it. It is wonderful. I shall make no attempt at description but will tell you when I get back." Moran was so enthralled with Venice that on his second visit he bought poet Robert Browning's gondola and had it shipped home to East Hampton, Long Island.

In this view of Venice, Moran turns the city into a dreamlike space of shimmering atmosphere and brilliant, iridescent color. Moran’s level of skill in representing sky, water, architecture and the interplay of light among all these things is so remarkable that Moran is regarded as one of the greatest painters in American art.

"This work on view is a wonderful complement to the two great Italian paintings of Venice in our collection,” CMA Executive Director, Karen Brosius, said. “We greatly appreciate the owners' generosity to loan their American painting to the CMA."

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