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GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE, 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE, AMERICAN, 17911872, OIL ON CANVAS, 73 X 108 IN.
(187.3 X 274.3 CM) TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART, DANIEL J. TERRA COLLECTION,
1992.51, PHOTOGRAPHY TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART, CHICAGO.

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SAMUEL F. B. MORSE'S GALLERY OF THE


LOUVRE
WED SEP 16 2015 SUN JAN 10 2016
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
THIRD FLOOR GALLERIES

Samuel F. B. Morse (17911872) is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic
telegraphand for "Morse" codebut he began his career as a painter and rose to the Presidency of
the National Academy of Design in New York. The monumental Gallery of the Louvre is his masterwork,
a canvas he created for the edification of his countrymen. The large painting will be shown in a
theatrical setting as the kind of grand public display that Morse himself would have created in 1833.
The beginning of Morse's pioneering efforts into new technologiesnamely the electromagnetic
telegraph and the medium of photographycan be found in the crafting of this one work of art,

Gallery of the Louvre. This piece was Morse's ambitious effort to capture images of the Louvre's great
paintings and transport them across the ocean and throughout the country, to the republic's young
cities and villages, so that art and culture could grow there.

Gallery of the Louvre, 183133, Samuel F. B. Morse, American, 17911872, oil on canvas, 73 x 108 in.
(187.3 x 274.3 cm) Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.51. Photography
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.
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A C LOS E R LO O K

Want to take a closer look at Morses Gallery of the Louvre? Use the magnifying glass on the image below to
explore the expansive and highly detailed painting.

FIGURE OF SAMUEL F. B. MORSE


Samuel F. B. Morse was a respected painter when he set sail from New York for Europe in 1829 to visit
the princely picture galleries. As Morse took in the glories of the Louvre Museum in Paris, he
recognized it as a model for the United States. The Louvre had been a royal palace but now it was a
national museum displaying the royal treasures, open free to all, artists and art admirers alike. Morse
had the idea to create the Louvre in miniature and transport it back to his country so that it could be
viewed by students who lacked appropriate models for learning the art of painting and shared with all
his countrymen, who still had few opportunities to see great art. Morse has shown himself in the role of
teacher here, at the very center of the scene, offering instruction to a young woman student who is
copying one of the masterpieces before her.
Morse hoped to attract large audiences of Americans to the exhibition of his painting of the Louvre
after he completed it in 1833, but he had little success. Yet, his work on Gallery of the Louvre played a
part in inspiring him to find other means to capture images and to transmit information across the

oceans. Eventually he abandoned painting, as his experiments with the electromagnetic telegraph
consumed him and his fascination with the new medium of photography led him to pursue another art
form.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

FRANCIS I, AFTER TITIAN, STUDY FOR GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE, 1831-33. OIL ON PANEL, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE,

AMERICAN, 1791-1872, 10 X 8 IN. TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART, CHICAGO. GIFT OF BERRY-HILL
GALLERIES IN HONOR OF DANIEL J. TERRA, C1984.5.

TIZIANO VECELLO, KNOWN AS TITIAN, (1488/9-1576, ITALIAN), FRANCIS I, 1539.


In creating his picture of pictures, Morse worked daily, tirelessly, in the galleries of the Louvre making
exact copies in miniature of his favorite canvases. Probably at times he drew with the aid of a camera
obscura, a box and lens device that allowed him to trace the outlines of a projected image. There is
evidence that Morse pinned his miniature studies onto the canvas as he worked out his complex
arrangement of pictures.
Morses Louvre was to be a select gathering of what he considered the best instructional examples by
the most venerated portrait, religious, and history painters of the past. Titians famous portrait of
Francis I has a central place in the presentation because Morse admired the Italian as a great painter;
moreover, Morse regarded Francis I as a noble Renaissance man of culture and curiosity about the
wide world. It was Francis I who restored the palace of the Louvre, brought Leonard da Vinci to Paris
from Italy, and also funded explorations in the New World.

AN ARTIST USING A CAMERA OBSCURA IN DRAWING.

THOUGHT TO BE FIGURES OF JAMES FENIMORE COOPER AND HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER
In Morses daily toils in the Louvre galleries, his friend, the American writer James Fenimore Cooper,
joined him. Morse painted the figures into his scene only after he had returned to New York, so his
precise motivation to include this particular set of characters is not known. But Cooper was with Morse
every day, offering encouragement and criticisms. I sit and have sat so often and so long that my face
is just as well known as any Vandyke on the walls, Cooper wrote of his regular place at Morses side.
Crowds get round the picture, for Morse has made quite a hit in the Louvre, and I believe that people
think that half the merit is mine. Morse was thought to put Cooper and his wife in the painting,
showing them hovering over the easel of their art student daughter, Susan, with Cooper gesturing as
though he is making some critical point about art making. Morse had hoped to eventually sell the
painting to Cooper, but that did not come to pass.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

SCHOOL CHILDREN VISIT HORATIO GREENOUGHS STATUE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON AT THE U.S. CAPITOL.
PROBABLY 1899. FRANCES BENJAMIN JOHNSTON (1864-1952) PHOTOGRAPHER.

THOUGHT TO BE THE SCULPTOR HORATIO GREENOUGH AND BRITTANY WOMAN AND


CHILD
Among the visitors to the Louvre on this occasion are a Brittany woman, identifiable by her distinctive,
traditional towering headdress, and her young child. This mother and child, hailing from a rural region
far outside Paris, are reminders that the Louvre was open to all, art students and art enthusiasts alike,
and that for Morse, the contemplation of art was essential to education and enlightened citizenship.
The American sculptor Horatio Greenough, another of Morses artist companions in Paris, is thought to
enter from the long gallery beyond, his gaze focused on the ancient marble sculpture of Artemis with a
Doe. Greenough aspired to create modern monuments that were as grand and awe-inspiring as those
of ancient Greece and Rome. Perhaps Greenough at this moment was already contemplating the

design for his prestigious commission from the United States Congress in 1832, a colossal marble
monument to George Washington, which Greenough conceived as an idealization in the form of the
god Zeus enthroned.

THOUGHT TO BE THE FIGURE OF RICHARD W. HABERSHAM


Richard West Habersham, a young American portraitist from Georgia, was Morses roommate in Paris,
and it is believed Morse added him to the picture, thus providing a lasting tribute to an artist who in
reality fell into obscurity. Habersham is at work on a landscape study, although he does not appear to
be directly copying any of the landscapes or seascapesworks by Nicolas Poussin or Claude Lorraine
that Morse included in his Louvre in miniature. Copying was not considered an end in itself for an artist
but was seen as an essential part of the creative process, leading to mastery of technique and
informed powers of invention.
With the exception of the Brittany woman and her child, all of the visitors to Morses Louvre Museum
are Americans, most are artists, and three of the young art students are women.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

FIGURE OF WOMAN AT WORK ON A MINIATURE PAINTING

This young woman is deeply involved in the making of a miniature painting. Her identity is a mystery. It
is possible that she is a Miss Joreter, who took lessons from Morse in the Louvre. It has also been
suggested that she represents Morses beloved wife, Lucretia, whose unexpected death in 1825 at age
26 left her husband grieving and footloose, sending him to Europe for the prolonged period of study
and reflection that resulted in the painting of The Gallery of the Louvre.
It is not apparent from the picture, but death was everywhere around Morse in Paris and accounts in
part for his seeking refuge in the Louvre. A cholera epidemic hit Paris in 1832, and Morse walked daily
among the dead and dying.

MONA LISA, LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519, ITALIAN, CA. 1503-19.


Leonardos portrait of Lisa Gherardini, called Mona Lisa, was a favorite of artists at the Louvre in the
19th century. Mona Lisa here hangs just below the portrait of Francis I. The French king had brought
Leonardo from Italy to France in 1516, when Leonardo may have been working on the enigmatic
portrait still. Francis I purchased the painting from Leonardos estate. It was put on public display at
the Louvre two centuries later, in 1797.

GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE (DETAIL), 183133, SAMUEL F. B. MORSE.

THE DAWN OF THE INFORMATION AGE


Samuel F.B. Morse was a man of many talents: he was a painter and an inventor, and, in retrospect, he
was nothing less than the prophesier of the coming information age.
Morses intent when he painted Gallery of the Louvre mirrors his intent when he worked to develop the
electromagnetic telegraph: his desire was to help spread human knowledge across vast distances. Most
notably, with his painting, he wanted to inform American artists and elevate the taste of his
countrymen.

In Gallery of the Louvre, Morse hoped to educate the American public about the masterworks of
European art he saw at the Louvre, the most splendidcollection of works of art in the world, he
called it. He painted for American art students who lacked appropriate models for learning the art of
painting. At this time, it was conventional practice for developing artists to copy a masters work so as
to improve their skills in color, composition, and form. Gallery of the Louvre was designed to offer
students the finest examples of the Old Masters, and European art was held up to Americans as
representative of the highest level of achievement.
Morse chose thirty-eight of his favorite Old Master paintings, and then he scaled them downpainting
each in miniature, and rearranged them as he saw fit across the large canvas. Back in New York, he
added figures to his gallery.
Today, and in part due to Morses efforts in advancing communications technology, the collections of
art museums worldwide are readily accessible to inspire art enthusiasts everywhere, no matter where
one might reside.

FROM PARIS TO AMERICA


The painting depicts masterpieces from the Louvre's collection that Morse rearranged according to his
own tastes and instructional aim. They hang in one of the Louvres grand galleries, the Salon Carr.
Morse envisioned the gallery as a workshop where artists and art students sketch and copy from the
Old Masters, thus honing their skills and feeding their artistic imaginations. Morse selected the
paintings he considered the best instructional examples, including Leonardo da Vincis Mona Lisa,
along with portraits, history paintings, and religious subjects depicted by such artists as Titian,
Veronese, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Watteau. Morse placed himself front and center,
instructing a young woman art student who copies one of the masterpieces before her. He also
introduced some of his American friends in Paris, including the novelist James Fenimore Cooper, who,
with his wife, hovers over the canvas of their art student daughter, Susan.
Morse copied directly from the paintings in the Louvre, probably employing at times a camera obscura
a lens and box device that allowed him to draw from a projected image. One of his surviving oil
sketches, his miniature of Titians portrait of Francis I, is included in the installation.

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RESOURCES
SAMUEL F. B. MORSE'S GALLERY OF THE LOUVRE: A GUIDE TO THE PAINTING >>

EXHIBITION SUPPORT
Samuel F. B. Morse's Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention is organized by and with support
from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Corporate Sponsor
U. S. Trust & Bank of America
Generous Support
American Art Endowment

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MORSE AND HIS GRAND MASTERWORK, PICK UP A COPY OF THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE,
WITH ESSAYS CURATORS AND CONSERVATORS, AND HISTORIANS OF ART, SOCIETY, AND TECHNOLOGY.
(PUBLISHED BY THE TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART). ADDITIONALLY, CHECK OUT THE ILLUSTRATED
GUIDE, WHICH OFFERS AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE PAINTING WRITTEN BY THE EXHIBITIONS CURATOR,
PETER JOHN BROWNLEE, AS WELL AS AN ELABORATE KEY TO THE PICTURES AND PEOPLE IN MORSES GALLERY
OF THE LOUVRE. (PUBLISHED BY THE TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART).

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