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Monday 16 January 2017

Thomas Moran’s etching, “The Sounding Sea”

Thomas Sidney Moran (1837–1926)
“The Sounding Sea”, 1880, published and printed by Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst, Vienna
Etching on cream wove paper with margins as published
Size: (sheet) 29 x 38.3 cm; (plate) 16.1 x 31 cm; (image borderline) 14.2 x 29.3 cm
Signed and dated in the plate at lower left and lettered below the image borderline: "ORIGINAL—RADIRUNG VON TH. MORAN.”

“Adventures in the Print Trade” offers an insightful discussion about Moran and this print (see and IDBURY Prints offer specific details about this print (see

Condition: faultless impression in pristine condition.

I am selling this rare and exceptionally beautiful etching by one of the most famous of the American painter-etchers for the total cost of AU$317 (currently US$236.73/EUR223.45/GBP196.32 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this masterpiece of etching by a luminary of the Hudson River School in New York, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Rather than restating the context for this print that is already explained succinctly in “Adventures in the Print Trade” (see: I have decided to offer my personal thoughts about this scene of waves breaking on the shore.

For me, the title of the etching, “The Sounding Sea”, suggests that I should respond to this image of waves as if I could actually hear the sound of surf pounding on sand while simultaneously seeing the water in its turbulent frenzy. This invitation by the title to merge my olfactory and visual senses is interesting. Sometimes artists wish to excite the visual senses of their audiences by goading the viewers' eyes to see colour in a black and white print through the viewers' past associations and acculturation with visual conventions. For example, early black and white engravings featuring heraldic designs subliminally entice the eye to see colour through the following arrangements of line in the design: blue is connoted with horizontal lines; red with vertical lines; green with forward slanting lines; orange with lines slanting in the opposite direction; gold with dots, and silver with no marks at all. In this etching, the jab-like thrusts and the multi-directional use of line express not only a picture of the sea, but also, in my mind’s eye, a hint of colour in its surging power, its cacophony of sounds and its inexplicable mix of salty taste and ozone smell.

Mindful that Moran may have shared my personal leaning towards synaesthesia (i.e. “a medical condition in which one of the five senses simultaneously stimulates another sense”; see, for me the beauty of this print is that it truly captures the pounding force of breaking waves not by describing them with light and shade but by expressing their energy in a way that touches all the senses in the strokes themselves.

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