AN art scholar paid a visit to Bolton to discover the roots of a 19th century artist famous for painting American landscapes.

Joni Kinsey, professor of American art history at the University of Iowa, gave a talk at Bolton Museum on the work of Thomas Moran.

The painter made his name in the US documenting the geysers, hot springs, canyons and cliffs of the now Yellowstone National Park.

His work inspired artist James Naughton, who lives in Heaton, to embark upon a remarkable journey across the American West in June, 2013, culminating in the exhibition, Naughton and Moran, which can be seen at the museum until November.

Professor Kinsey, currently on an exchange programme for scholars, said: “I would have come here to do research anyway and this exhibition was just a remarkable added benefit.

"I’ve come over to the UK for six months. It’s exciting to come to the birthplace of the artist I’ve been researching for about three decades.

“The British side of his work is not very well known and my goal is to develop the history and learn about it. This may end up being a book, it may end up being an exhibition, it depends on how it develops.”

Moran was in born in Bolton in 1837 to parents who were handloom weavers.

They were forced out of their jobs due to the rapid industrialisation of 19th century England, which soon mechanised the weaving process, and the whole family moved to Baltimore and later settled in Kensington, Philadelphia.

At 16, Moran became an apprentice at a wood-engraving firm and it was there he began to paint and draw.

Prof Kinsey told how Moran and his family returned to Bolton in 1882, where the native son hosted an exhibition featuring about 150 pieces including oil paintings and watercolours, celebrated in the Bolton Evening News.

Naughton and Moran displays the paintings, sketches and prints resulting from Mr Naughton’s trip of a lifetime alongside works by Moran, from Bolton Museum’s collections, including Nearing Camp, Evening On The Upper Colorado River, Wyoming, which was bought after a massive fundraising campaign.

Mr Naughton, aged 42, said: “It’s a really amazing co-incidence that it’s all happening at the same time.

“I did quite a lot of research for the project but a lot of it was based on where I was going in America so there was quite a lot of details in terms of Bolton I didn’t know so it’s been quite enlightening.”