Samuel F.B. Morse's Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention
On view October 8, 2016 to January 8, 2017
Struggling to secure his reputation as a great American artist, Samuel F. B. Morse sailed to Europe in 1829, and embarked on a period of intense study and prodigious copying of great works of art that culminated in his grand painting Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33). Measuring approximately six by nine feet, the painting depicts an imagined installation of forty artworks in the Salon Carré at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. In the scene, individuals study, sketch and copy from great works of art, just as Morse did in order to complete the painting. With its emphasis on copying as a technology of transmission and creation, this ambitious work anticipates Morse’s later experiments with photography, the electromagnetic telegraph and the invention of Morse code. PEM’s presentation ofSamuel F. B. Morse's Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention is accompanied by an installation of over sixty-five works drawn from PEM’s collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American, Asian, and maritime photography. Inspired by Morse’s role as the “father of American photography,” the selection of these images reflects the strengths of PEM photographic holdings, while echoing the spirit of curation, storytelling, and cross-cultural affinities embodied in Gallery of the Louvre.
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.