Published: January 6, 2016
BENTONVILLE, ARK. — “Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre & The Art of Invention” is on view from January 23 through April 18 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Known today primarily for his role in the development of the electromagnetic telegraph and Morse code, Samuel F. B. Morse began his career as a painter. One of his most important works is “Gallery of the Louvre,” now in the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art.
In 1829, Morse embarked upon a three-year period of study in Paris. This culminated in the monumental “Gallery of the Louvre,” in which the artist chose masterpieces from the Louvre’s collection and depicted them as if they had been exhibited together in one of the museum’s grandest spaces.
“Gallery of the Louvre” is a painting of visual and technical complexity, bringing together Morse’s artistic and scientific pursuits and revealing an adoration of the Old Masters as well as the artist’s Calvinist worldview and conservative cultural politics.
Morse showed “Gallery of the Louvre” as a single-painting exhibition only twice—in New York City and New Haven, Conn.—where it was praised by critics and connoisseurs but failed to capture the imagination of the public. Crushed by the lukewarm public response, Morse soon ceased painting altogether, moving on to his more successful experiments with the electromagnetic telegraph and, most famously, Morse code. Today, after six months of conservation and two years of scholarly study, this impressive work of American art reveals Morse’s fascination with the transmission of information: in both his desire to share masterworks from Europe with the American people, and his invention of Morse code.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is at 600 Museum Way. For information, www.crystalbridges.org or 479-418-5700.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm