Daniel Terra added Samuel F. B. Morse's iconic painting Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33) to his collection in 1982.
Daniel Terra added Samuel F. B. Morse’s iconic painting Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33) to his collection in 1982.

Terra Foundation Announces U.S. Tour and Published Anthology of American Masterpiece

October 2nd, 2014

Chicago, IL—The Terra Foundation for American Art announced today that Samuel F. B. Morse’s monumental painting Gallery of the Louvre will embark on a multi-year tour across the United States in January. Kicking off at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, CA (January 24–April 20, 2015), the tour will visit nine museums across the country, including venues in Fort Worth, TX; Bentonville, AR; Detroit, MI; Salem, MA; and Winston-Salem, NC.

“Our founder, Daniel Terra, believed American art was a dynamic and powerful expression of the nation’s history and identity,” explained Terra Foundation President & CEO Elizabeth Glassman. “He also held that engagement with original works of art could be a transformative experience, and we’re thrilled to honor his legacy by sharing this masterwork from our collection with audiences across the country.”

The exhibition, Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention, is the culmination of the painting’s extensive conservation treatment in 2010 and two years of scholarly investigation. It will be accompanied by an anthology of the same title, published by the Terra Foundation and distributed by Yale University Press.

“We are delighted to host the kickoff of this extraordinary tour,” said Kevin Salatino, director of the art collections at The Huntington. “And Gallery of the Louvre is particularly fitting here, where our collections span the history of American art as well that of science and technology—interests shared with Morse himself. Los Angeles audiences are sure to be fascinated in many ways by this gem of an exhibition.”

Exhibition tour dates are as follows:

  • The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, January 24, 2015–April 20, 2015
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX, May 23, 2015–September 7, 2015
  • Seattle Art Museum, Washington, September 22, 2015–January 10, 2016
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, January 2016–April 2016
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, June 2016­–September 2016
  • Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, October 2016–January 2017
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC, February 2017–June 2017
  • New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, June 2017–October 2017
  • Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, November 2017–January 2018

Known today primarily for his role in the development of the electromagnetic telegraph and his namesake code, Samuel Morse began his career as a painter. Created between 1831 and 1833 in Paris and New York, Gallery of the Louvre was Morse’s masterwork and the culmination of his studies in Europe.

“Morse’s ‘gallery picture,’ a form first popularized in the seventeenth century, is the only major example of such in the history of American art,” says Peter John Brownlee, curator at the Terra Foundation. “For this canvas, Morse selected masterpieces from the Louvre’s collection and imaginatively ‘reinstalled’ them in one of the museum’s grandest spaces, the Salon Carré.”

In addition to highlighting renowned works by the Old Masters, Gallery of the Louvre serves as a painted treatise on artistic practice, positioning Morse, depicted as the centrally placed instructor in the work, as a link between European art of the past and America’s cultural future.

In 2010 Gallery of the Louvre underwent a six-month conservation treatment in the studio of Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, specialists in American painting who have restored such major works as Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851; Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Rembrandt Peale’s The Court of Death (1824; Detroit Institute of Arts). The conservation repaired damages that had occurred over time and yielded insight into Morse’s working methods.

“The conservation treatment greatly improved the overall look of the Gallery of the Louvre and confirmed that Morse was as fearless an experimenter with painting media as he was with the daguerreotype and the electromagnetic telegraph later in his career,” added Brownlee.

The painting’s conservation was documented in the 30-minute video A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre,” produced by Sandpail Productions for the Terra Foundation. The video provides information about Morse’s career, as well as paintings depicted in the picture, and features interviews with conservators, curators at the Terra Foundation and the Musée du Louvre, and other specialists, including Morse scholar Paul J. Staiti, Alumnae Foundation Professor of Fine Arts at Mount Holyoke College.

From 2011 to 2013, the painting was exhibited for extended periods at the Yale University Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where it was the subject of scholarly investigation and dialogue.

The new research generated from this analysis culminated in Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention, an anthology of essays by:

  • Jean-Philippe Antoine, professor of aesthetics and contemporary art theory at Paris 8 University;
  • Wendy Bellion, associate professor of art history at the University of Delaware;
  • David Bjelajac, professor of art and American studies at The George Washington University;
  • Peter John Brownlee (also the editor), curator at the Terra Foundation for American Art;
  • Rachael DeLue, associate professor in the Art & Archaeology Department at Princeton University;
  • Sarah Kate Gillespie, curator of American art at the Georgia Museum of Art;
  • Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, independent painting conservators;
  • Andrew McClellan, professor of art history at Tufts University;
  • Alexander Nemerov, the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University;
  • Tanya Pohrt, the Marcia Brady Tucker Curatorial Fellow in the department of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery;
  • Richard Read, Winthrop Professor in art history at the University of Western Australia in Perth; and
  • Catherine Roach, assistant professor of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This anthology brings together fresh insights by academics, curators, and conservators, who focus on the painting’s visual components and the social and historical contexts that make it such a rich, complex work.

Terra Foundation for American Art

Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With financial resources of more than $350 million, an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, and an expansive grant program, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, supporting exhibitions, academic programs, and research worldwide.