Edward Moran (American). The Valley in the Sea. Oil on Canvas. 1862.
The Valley of the Sea is the first and perhaps only panoramic underwater view in nineteenth-century American art. Painted in Philadelphia, its majestic distant spaces and meticulous attention to details reveals the aquatic equivalent of the scenic wonders that fascinated the painters of the Hudson River School. It is most likely that Dr. James M. Sommerville, the original owner of Valley of the Sea, commissioned Edward Moran to create this painting. In 1859 Sommerville published Ocean Life, which included illustrations of 75 different species of aquatic life and in 1860 Matthew Fontaine Maury published the Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology, the first textbook on modern oceanography. There is a marked similarity between some of Maury’s descriptions and Moran’s paintings. A 1971 letter from Jacques Cousteau stated, “Ed Moran’s painting … is a work of imagination, based on serious documentation.”
…from Indianapolis Museum of Art’s website.