Friday, July 27, 2018

Mary Nimmo Moran's Garden

I recently ventured over to East Hampton to see the completed Moran Studio renovation. The East Hampton Historical Society lists summer tours of the home Thursdays through Saturdays at 11:30 and 2:30. I wrongly assumed that the house would be open between tours for a casual visit. The house was locked up tight. No indoor visit for me, I'll return for the scheduled tour! Fortunately, it was a lovely day for viewing the Moran's garden.
The Garden Club of East Hampton recreates Mary Nimmo Moran's garden by modeling it after paintings and photos of the Moran home and studio. The tall yellow hollyhock plantings illustrate the Grandmother's Garden style which fill the backdrop of countless American impressionist paintings.
Thomas Moran’s House (East Hampton, Long Island)
Theodore Wores (American, 1859-1939)
Oil on board. 9 x 12 in. 
Collection of The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY. 
Gift of Dr. A. Jess Shenson in memory of Ronald G. Pisano. 2001.4 via 
Daughter, Ruth Moran wrote on the back of this photograph: “Garden path to Studio from Main Street. The land is higher than the sidewalk by two steps.”  Photo and text via
Painting by Mary Nimmo Moran, 1895
East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection
Mary Nimmo Moran was renown during her lifetime as a master etcher.  The oil paintings of her gardens, though lesser known, are a wonderful. An example of not having to go far to find paradise. I was immediately drawn to the garden themed one above in the Long Island History room of the East Hampton library. I imagine her taking a break from the housework to prop an easel on the lawn and paint the view. 
Mary Nimmo Moran, age 42
East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection via
The newly planted roses have a ways to go before they reach the glorious heights of the Moran's day.
A Garden Path, Mary Nimmo Moran 1884
Osborn-Jackson House Collection via
"A fence and honeysuckle hedge were on Main Street. From the hedge a broad lawn ran up to The Studio and into the north side yard. Trees and shrubs on the lawn apparently included apple trees left over from Dr. Edward Osborn’s orchard as well as shade trees and shrubs planted by the Morans. To retain as continuous a lawn as possible, the driveway was placed at the north property line and the walkway from Main Street, rather than aligning with the front door, was set further to the south. The walkway from Main Street intersected a north-south gravel walkway that ran from the 1890 front porch south to a fence to Dr. Osborn’s garden and north to wrap around the north wall of The Studio to the back yard. A picket fence along the south property line separated the Moran property from the Osborn property. The area between this fence and the walkway from Main Street, about ten feet north of the fence, became the site for Mary Nimmo Moran’s garden. Dr. Edward Osborn had an extensive flower border along his side of this fence and Mrs. Moran planted a border on the north side of the fence as well as borders on either side of the walkway. Other flowers and shrubs were planted around the front porch and front wall of The Studio. Vines grew up the walls of the house and into the apple trees." via Art and Architecture Quarterly
Thomas Moran at the gate of his garden, East Hampton
East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection via
I am currently reading Shannon Vittoria 's Dissertation on Mary Nimmo Moran. I am, of course exceptionally fascinated because the Morans are an artist couple. Paraphrasing, Thomas Moran said, if something was bugging him about a painting, his wife could always point out what it was. Mrs. Moran also kindly says that (paraphrasing again) she didn't know anything about art until she studied with her husband. They must have been so special together! I was so sad to read that Mrs. Moran died at age 57 after contracting typhoid fever brought to the area by the returning soldiers from the Spanish-American war who were encamped in Montauk. The photo below must have been taken the summer before her death.
Mary Nimmo Moran at age 57
Holding roses, 1899
East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection via
"Mrs. Moran died Sept 25, 1899 of Enteric Fever (Typhoid) contracted from the America soldiers who returned home from Cuba who were in camp at Montauk Point, not far from her Louise." from Biographical Notes, possibly written by her daughter Ruth B. Moran,  East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection via  
Thomas Moran Studio, East Hampton, NY
Courtesy of the Long Island Collection, East Hampton Library  via
The Garden Path by Mary Nimmo Moran, 1894 via
My Neighbor's Home - Easthampton, 1883
Mary Nimmo Moran
Etching on paper, Smithsonian image via
The Moran's neighbor's home is getting some overdue TLC of its own.

 I have more to learn about the history of the Moran Studio and its family.  My impression of Mary Nimmo Moran is of a woman who created a wonderful life for family and self, an extraordinary person that I wish I could have known.

The Genius of Mary Nimmo Moran - East Hampton Star
Art and Architecture Quarterly|East End Restoration
Nature and Nostalgia in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran (1842 - 1899) Dissertation by Shannon Vittoria