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Thomas Moran
Mist in Kanab Canyon, Utah
1892
oil
44 3/8 x 38 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Bessie B. Croffut



While Moran was a member of Ferdinand Hayden's United States Geological Survey during the 1870s, he stayed at Fort Kanab, near the early Mormon settlement in Utah. This later painting is probably based on his own watercolor sketches and photographs by William Henry Jackson, who was also a member of Hayden's survey. Rather than illustrating a history of conflict between early Mormon settlers and Native Americans, Moran instead chose to depict the site in the language of the sublime. The canyon's geologic formations rise into swirling mists above the crashing cataracts. A bird soars over Moran's Kanab, evoking thoughts of the dove of peace that oversaw the receding of the Flood's waters. By the 1890s when he painted this view, the nearby fort had developed into a thriving town.