The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, April 23, 2018

National Gallery of Art Takes a New Look: Samuel F.B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre"
Samuel F. B. Morse, Gallery of the Louvre, 1831–1833. Oil on canvas, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The renowned painting Gallery of the Louvre (1831–1833) by American inventor Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) has been recently conserved and is now on view in a focus exhibition at the National Gallery of Art near the East Garden Court of the West Building. On loan from the Terra Foundation for American Art from June 25, 2011, through July 8, 2012, the painting depicts masterpieces from the Louvre's collection that Morse "reinstalled" in one of that museum's grandest galleries, the Salon Carré. A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre" was previously on view at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, from March 1 through June 12, 2011.

"The Gallery of the Louvre will not only enable visitors to learn more about the artistic accomplishments of Morse, best known for his inventions, and will further their understanding of his greatest painting and its historical importance," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "We are delighted to include it in our series of special installations focused on an iconic American work."

"It is a wonderful tribute to Morse's ambitious undertaking that his Gallery of the Louvre is on view at the National Gallery of Art in our nation's capital. Morse had an unwavering belief in the power of art to foster cultural pride, yet the masterpiece he completed nearly 200 years ago was the result of a transatlantic effort," stated Elizabeth Glassman, president and chief executive officer, Terra Foundation for American Art. "Painted in Paris and New York, Gallery of the Louvre truly embodies our international mission. The foundation is committed to sharing its distinguished collection in an effort to stimulate cross-cultural dialogue and exchange on American art. For more than one year, the painting will reside at the National Gallery of Art, linking its excellent collections of American and European masterworks."

Gallery of the Louvre
Morse envisioned the Salon Carré as a workshop where individuals study, sketch, and copy from an imagined assemblage of the Louvre's finest works, including paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Veronese, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Watteau. Many of these artists are also represented on the Main Floor in the National Gallery of Art's own collection; their works are on view nearby in the West Building.

In 1830, during a brief visit to the Louvre, Morse may have conceived a plan to paint one large picture containing reduced versions of the masterpieces of the collection. Morse's Gallery had a number of precedents, including Johann Zoffany's famed The Tribuna of the Uffizi (1772–1778, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle). And Morse's idea of depicting the Salon Carré, one of the Louvre's grandest spaces, follows in the vein of Hubert Robert's painting Project for the Transformation of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre (1796, Louvre). But when Morse returned to the Louvre in 1831 to begin the project, he was disappointed to find the Salon Carré hung with contemporary French paintings, as depicted in Nicolas-Sébastien Maillot's Salon Carré du Louvre in 1831 (1831, Louvre). Morse therefore replaced them with masterpieces from the Louvre's Grande Galerie, and he featured its entrance in his final composition.

Executed in Paris and New York, the Gallery of the Louvre was intended to inspire and inform American audiences. Morse's selection of old master paintings was guided by the teachings of his mentors, the taste of his patrons, and his own ideals as an artist-instructor. These pictures also illustrate various approaches to the treatment of light, color, line, and composition—topics that Morse addressed in his lectures at the National Academy of Design in New York.

Morse depicted himself at the center in the role of teacher, leaning over his daughter as she sketches. He also included friend and author James Fenimore Cooper at left with his wife and daughter. Nearby, the artist copying an unidentified landscape is thought to be Richard W. Habersham, one of Morse's colleagues in Paris. Exiting the gallery are a woman and little girl dressed in provincial costumes, suggesting the broad appeal of the Louvre and the educational benefits it afforded.

Morse exhibited the Gallery first in New York City during the fall of 1833 and again the following spring in New Haven. Highly praised by critics and a few connoisseurs, this type of picture with little narrative interest was rejected by the public. Crushed by the response, he sold the Gallery and its frame for $1,300 to George Hyde Clarke, a wealthy New York landowner and relative of Cooper's. Morse soon ceased painting altogether, moving on to his successful experiments with the daguerreotype, telegraph, and Morse code.

In an effort to educate his American audience, Morse published Descriptive Catalogue of the Pictures...from the Most Celebrated Masters, Copied into the "Gallery of the Louvre" in 1833, which included identifications of the works of art that he depicted. A brochure written by Peter John Brownlee, associate curator at the Terra Foundation, accompanies the exhibition and includes an updated version of Morse's key to the art, reflecting current scholarship. Although Morse never named the people represented in his painting, this key also includes possible identities for some of them.

Recent Conservation
The recent conservation of the painting has revealed that the technical construction of Morse's Gallery was no less complex than its composition. Following the example of his mentor Washington Allston, Morse experimented with various painting media and used the Titian-inspired technique of applying glazes—thin layers of translucent mixtures of oil and pigment—to achieve the richness of coloring as well as the exquisite modeling of figures within the paintings depicted in the Gallery.

But Morse also mixed resinous materials with his pigments to approximate the deep tonal qualities of the old master paintings represented and added varnishes to expedite the drying process. Unfortunately, damage caused by these materials, combined with the stress of rolling the canvas for transport from Paris to New York, necessitated extensive repairs that the artist probably undertook himself prior to showing the work publicly. Thus, he was both the painting's creator and first conservator.

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872)
Known today primarily for his role in the development of the telegraph, Samuel F. B. Morse began his career as a painter. Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, he attended Yale University, graduated in 1810, and moved to Boston. There he became the private pupil and friend of the painter Washington Allston, who introduced him to a traditional program of study that encompassed drawing, anatomy, and art theory. With Allston's encouragement, Morse went to London, where he met Benjamin West and was accepted as a student at the Royal Academy of Arts. Morse's first major painting there, The Dying Hercules (1812–1813, Yale University Art Gallery), earned high praise.

Returning home in 1815, full of optimism and national pride, Morse confronted an artistic climate unfavorably disposed to history painting in the grand manner and was forced to turn to portrait painting for financial support. Throughout the late 1810s and 1820s, he painted portraits of clients in cities and towns along the Atlantic seaboard. His practice as a portraitist and his ambitions to advance a strong national art came together in his first great picture, The House of Representatives, which he toured as a single-painting exhibition to modest, though ultimately unsatisfying, critical and popular response.

In 1826, Morse was elected the first president of the National Academy of Design, a New York institution he had helped establish. Later that year, in a series of lectures he delivered at the New-York Athenaeum, he argued that "it is the principal aim of painting to excite the Imagination by visible reproduction of natural objects" and other phenomena observable in nature. To put this theory into practice, the painter used the tools of line and color. Skill in drawing and composition could be honed at institutions such as the National Academy, while excellence in the application of color came with copying the works of the old masters, which also provided much-needed income.

American artists such as West, John Singleton Copley, and John Trumbull had often supplemented their incomes by painting copies of works by Renaissance and baroque artists, usually as commissions for private patrons. Morse also executed copies on commission, fulfilling numerous requests for reproductions of works by Titian, Rubens, Poussin, Murillo, and others. Such works funded Morse's studies abroad between 1829 and 1832—a trip that culminated in the monumental painting Gallery of the Louvre.

Today's News

June 29, 2011

Second Highest Price Paid for a Work of Art at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Sale

Cy Twombly and Nicolas Poussin: Arcadian Painters at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Mexican Archaeologists Find Probable Prehispanic Maya Cemetery in Tabasco

Christie's Announces Sale Dates and Global Tour of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor

Federal Researchers Use Sonar Technology to Map Civil War, World War II Shipwrecks

Sir Terence Conran Makes Major Gift to the Design Museum for New Development Project

Charismatic Art Historian James Fox Explores British Masters for New Series on BBC

Significant New Acquisitions to Tate's Collection on View at Tate Britain's Galleries

Recent Paintings and Sculptures by Takashi Murakami at Gagosian in London

Harun Farocki: Images of War (at a Distance) Marks the Artist's First Solo Exhibition in a U.S. Museum

Walter and Brigitte Kames Donate Lithographs by Honoré Daumier to Museum in Munich

FLAG Art Foundation Opens Exhibition of Sculpture and Photography by Roni Horn

'Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs' Exhibition Opens at the Asia Society Museum

Getty is First Museum to Provide Expanded Google Goggles Experience to Visitors

Chinese Sculptor Moulds Memory of Mao

National Gallery of Art Takes a New Look: Samuel F.B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre"

The British Museum Collection Reaches Record Audiences Worldwide     

Exhibition at the Lowry Focuses on the Most Alluring Divas of Andy Warhol's Time

Vancouver Art Gallery Exhibition Highlights the Surrealist Fascination with Indigenous Art

Museum of Fine Arts Houston to Launch Digital Archive of 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art

Minneapolis Institute of Arts Appoints Mary Jane Drews Director of External Affairs

Bonhams to Sell Old Master Painting by Lucas Gassel that Shows Importance of Tennis

Bonhams & Butterfields Sells Indiana Jones, Tim Burton, Norma Shearer and Animation Art

Los Angeles Modern Auctions Becoming Choice Auction House for Modern Art on the West Coast

Beijing Tax Authorities Seek Nearly $2 Million from Outspoken Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei

Hungarian Photographers in Frame in United Kingdom's Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition

2011 Käthe Kollwitz Prize Awarded to Canadian Artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

Martin Creed's Work No.1059, 2011 is the New Commission for the Scotsman Steps

Phillips de Pury & Company's June Contemporary Art Evening Sale Realizes $16,923,234

Early American Toys and Trains Raced Past their Estimates at Noel Barrett's Spring Sale

Against the Way Things Go at Gasser Grunnert

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful