Edward Moran was the eldest brother of the painter Thomas Moran. He was born in England and immigrated to Maryland in 1844. Shortly thereafter he moved to Philadelphia to work in a cotton factory. The owner of the factory was impressed with Moran’s sketches, which covered the machines and walls of the plant, and encouraged him to pursue a career as an artist. Moran began his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but in 1847 he and his brother Thomas returned to England to further pursue their artistic training. Edward came back to Philadelphia and began his career as a professional artist in the 1850s. In 1872 he settled in New York City, where he spent the remainder of his life.
While Moran was in Philadelphia the city was the center of the United States’ clipper ship production, and the artist drew inspiration from the industry. Moran also came under the influence of James Hamilton, a prominent Irish-born marine painter known for his silvery tones and loose accents of light. Through Hamilton and his own study abroad, Moran developed a style based primarily on English painting of the seventeen and eighteenth centuries and seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Moran became renown for his marine paintings. His series of thirteen paintings depicting important epochs in United States’ maritime history were widely exhibited and can now be found at the New York Public Library. His work is represented in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Denver Art Museum.