Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Samuel F. B. Morse

Known today for his invention of the telegraph and Morse Code, Samuel F. B. Morse was originally a skilled artist.  His monumental painting, The Gallery of the Louvre, is on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  Owned by the Terra Foundation for American Art,
 the painting has recently undergone a complete and careful restoration. 

While I was there, one of the museum's educators -- Kay -- was discussing the painting with teenagers attending a summer art program.  The kids paid close attention and
weren't shy about answering Kay's questions and offering their own ideas.

Morse put himself at the bottom center of the painting, looking over an art student's shoulder.
Da Vinci's Mona Lisa has a place of honor behind him, as do works by Titian, Veronese, Claude Lorrain and others.  Morse painted his friend James Fenimore Cooper 
in the left corner with Cooper's wife and daughter.  

A terrific book about the American emigres who spent time in Paris when Morse and Cooper
were there is David McCullough's The Greater Journey:  Americans in Paris (2011).


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

One might have expected the man responsible for so many dots and dashes to have been an impressionist! Surprising to see Fennimore Cooper depicted in such genteel surroundings.

William Kendall said...

It is a beautiful painting!

I would have mentioned the book if you hadn't... I love McCullough's works, and only recently re-read that one in particular.

Sharon Anck said...

What a wonderful painting. I would have enjoyed hearing Kay talk about it. Looking at a painting while someone talks about it and points things out makes you see things you never would have noticed.

Paul in Powell River said...

Well, it's a good day when I learn something, first thing. Had no idea he was an artist. Though they've moved the Mona Lisa to a spot of her own since he was at the Louvre.

Jack said...

Paul, Morse depicted an imagined scene. He took great paintings from all over the Louvre and showed them "salon style." In those days, few Americans traveled to Europe, so paintings like this introduced them to artworks they would never see in person.

RedPat said...

I like this one a lot, Jack! The 3-d aspect makes you feel that you are right there in the room with them!

Michelle said...

I have learned something today. I didn't know he was originally an artist. Thank you, Jack.

Janet said...

Thanks for posting this. I've been wanting to go to NBMAA to see this painting. Now you've re-inspired me!

jennyfreckles said...

Well, I never knew that! What a fascinating painting too. I'd like to have heard the talk about it.