National Museum of Women in the Arts
Mary Nimmo Moran
May 16 1842 - September 25 1899
Photograph of Mary Nimmo Moran, unknown date, by Napoleon Sarony, courtesy of the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK, USA
Place of Birth:
American, British – Scottish
Phonetic Spelling:
MAIR-ee NEEM-oh mohr-AN
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Etcher, Painter, Printmaker, Self-taught Artist, Watercolorist
Artist's Biography:
Mary Nimmo Moran’s etchings were celebrated for their boldness and originality. In 1847 the artist and her brother immigrated to the United States from their native Scotland with their widowed father, a weaver named Archibald Nimmo. The family settled in Cresentville, Pennsylvania, where their next-door neighbors, English immigrants named Moran, introduced Mary to their son, Thomas, a well-known artist. At eighteen Mary began to study drawing and painting with Moran; two years later they were married and moved to Philadelphia. The couple soon had two daughters and a son, and in 1872, they relocated to Newark, New Jersey.

While Thomas achieved great success with his oil renditions of the western United States, Mary concentrated on painting the landscape near their home. Although she sometimes traveled with her husband—to the West, Florida, Europe—during the early years of their marriage Mary was too busy taking care of three young children, managing the household, and assisting her husband with his commissions to do much painting.

She came into her own as an artist in 1879, when Thomas introduced her to the technique of etching. Working in this medium Mary achieved immediate success: she was elected to membership in the Society of Painters and Etchers of New York; she became the only woman among the sixty-five original fellows of London’s Royal Society of Painters and Etchers; her prints won several awards and were collected by such prominent individuals as the English critic John Ruskin. Rather than being overshadowed by her famous spouse, on many occasions when both husband and wife exhibited etchings in the same show, it was Mary’s work that was singled out for praise.

In 1884, the Morans built a new home on Long Island, the surrounding area of which became the subject of many of Mary’s most successful etchings. She died in 1899 of typhoid fever, after nursing their daughter Ruth through a bout with the same disease.

Place(s) of Residence:
Place(s) of Activity:
Fort George Island
Where Trained/Schools:
Private lessons (ca. 1860)
Related Visual Artists:
wife and student of Thomas Moran mother of Paul Nimmo Moran
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Medal and Diploma, Chicago Columbian Exposition, Chicago, IL, USA (1893) Fellow, Royal Society of Painters and Etchers, London, England (1881) Elected Member, New York Etching Club, New York, NY, USA (1879)
Earliest exhibition:
Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1877)
NMWA exhibition(s):
The Washington Print Club Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition: Graphic Legacy
The Etching Revival and the Professional Woman Artist
Artist retrospective(s):
Prints of Nature: Poetic Etchings of Mary Nimmo Moran, Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Tulsa, OK, USA (1984)
Related places
Long Island (died at)