Mary Nimmo Moran. “'Tween the Gloaming and the Mirk, When
the Kye Come Hame,” 1883.
Roulette, mezzotint, and sandpaper in sepia ink on chine collé.
Published in Sylvester R. Koehler, Original Etchings by American
Artists (Cassell and Company, 1883). Image size: 7 1/2 x 11 1/2".
Sheet size: 15 x 19". Signed and dated in the plate at l. l.: M.
Nimmo Moran 1883. A few faint scattered spots at margin edge. Fine.
Mary Moran (1842–1899), the wife of the landscape painter Thomas Moran,
achieved an international reputation as one of the best American
painter-etchers of the late-nineteenth century. She was known for her
vigorous etchings of summer and twilight skies over woods and water,
the sites of which were those near her summer home in East Hampton,
the meadows of New Jersey, or the hills of Pennsylvania.
A native of Scotland, Moran’s images, although based on the
landscape she observed around her, were often meant to invoke her
homeland, as is the case with the present etching. Notes Sylvester
Koehler, the nineteenth-century American proselytizer for the etching
medium, “the motive of the etching was supplied by the scenery
of Long Island, where Mrs. Moran usually spends her summers with her
husband.” However, the details of the scene reflect the words
of an old Scottish air, “When the Kye Comes Hame,”
describing the return of cows for milking at sunset. The print,
already romantic in mood, takes on an even more nostalgic sentiment
because such summer evening scenes in Scottish villages have long
Moran learned etching from her husband. She was experimental in technique,
combining line etching, dry point, mezzotint, Scotch stone, roulette,
and artistic printing to create coloristic effects. She combined
several techniques in the print offered here, her best-known print,
in order capture the elusive qualities of light that occur “between
the gloamin’ and the mirk,” just as twilight descends
into darkness. The roulette creates the darkened atmosphere from
which emanates a remarkable sense of quietude. A rare and desirable
image by this preeminent American etcher.
Refs.: Thomas P. Bruhn, American Etching: The 1880s, exh. cat., no.
30 (illus.); Christian Klackner, A Catalogue of the Complete
Etched Works of Thomas Moran, N.A., and M. Nimmo Moran, S.P.E.
(New York: C. Klackner’s, 1889), exh. cat., no. 29; Sylvester
R. Koehler, Original Etchings by American Artists (New York:
Cassell and Company, 1883); Francine Tyler, American Etchings of
the Nineteenth Century, pp. v, xx, plate no. 69.