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Past Exhibitions


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Samuel F. B. Morse's Gallery of the Louvre

Sep 16 2015 – Jan 10 2016

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph—and for "Morse" code—but 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 technologies—namely the electromagnetic telegraph and the medium of photography—can 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, 1831–33, Samuel F. B. Morse, American, 1791–1872, oil on canvas, 73 ¾ 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.

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.