Terra Collection Initiative: Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention

Samuel F. B. Morse’s monumental painting Gallery of the Louvre began a multi-year national tour in January 2015. Kicking off at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, CA (January 24–May 4), the tour visits nine museums across the country, including venues in Fort Worth, TX; Seattle, WA; Bentonville, AR; Detroit, MI; Salem, MA; Winston-Salem, NC; New Britain, CT; and Stanford, CA (see below). +

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. 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.

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.

The painting’s conservation has yielded insight into Morse’s working methods 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.  The 30-minute video A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre,” documents this 2010 conservation conducted by Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, specialists in American painting.

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 and two years of scholarly investigation. It is accompanied by an anthology of the same title, published by the Terra Foundation and distributed by Yale University Press.  Sharing this masterwork from our collection with audiences across the country demonstrates Daniel Terra’s belief that American art is a dynamic and powerful expression of the nation’s history and identity, and that engagement with original works of art can be a transformative experience.

Dates & Venues

January 24–May 4, 2015
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California

May 23–August 23, 2015
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

September 16, 2015–January 10, 2016
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington

January 23–April 18, 2016
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

June 18–September 18, 2016
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

October 8, 2016–January 8, 2017
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

February 17–June 4, 2017
Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

June 17–October 15, 2017
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut

November 2017–March 2018
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, California

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection

Publications

Brownlee, Peter John, ed. Samuel F. B. Morse’s “The Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention. Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2014.

Brownlee, Peter John. Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre”: A Guide to the Painting. Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2014.

Related Content

Press release: “Terra Foundation Announces U.S. Tour and Published Anthology of American Masterpiece,” October 2, 2014

Key to the People and Art in Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre

Book review: Joshua Rose, “Samuel F. B. Morse: Gallery of the Louvre,” review of Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention, edited by Peter John Brownlee, American Fine Art Magazine 19 (January/February 2015): 47-49.

Book review: Guy Jordan, Review of Samuel F.B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention, edited by Peter John Brownlee, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (Fall 2015).

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Installation view of the 2015 Terra Collective Initiative Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre" and the Art of Invention at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA
Installation view of Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA
  • Press release
  • Preview: James Gardner, “Morse at the Huntington Library,” The Magazine Antiques, February 9, 2015

Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Installation view of the 2015–2018 Terra Collection Initiative Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre" and the Art of Invention at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX. Photo: Steven Watson, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Installation view of Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX. Photo: Steven Watson, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
  • Press release
  • Blog post: Maggie Adler, “Copycat Need Not Be a Dirty Word,” May 27, 2015
  • Blog post: Andrew J. Walker, “In the Salon,” July 29, 2015
  • Radio interview: Maggie Adler, Assistant Curator at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, discusses the exhibition on WRR-FM, Dallas, Texas

Seattle Art Museum

Installation view of the 2015-2016 Terra Collective Initiative Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre" and the Art of Invention at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA.
Installation view of Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Art handlers de-install the 2016 Terra Collective Initiative Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre" and the Art of Invention at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK.
Art handlers de-install Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK.
  • Press release
  • Blog post: Linda Deberry, “A Taste of France: Eleven Celebrates Samuel Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre,” January 19, 2016
  • Blog post: Linda Deberry, “The Rise and Fall of Samuel F.B. Morse,” January 26, 2016

Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Press release
  • Public lecture: TFAA curator Peter John Brownlee at DIA opening of Samuel F. B. Morse’s ‘Gallery of the Louvre’ and the Art of Invention, June 15, 2016

Related Videos

The following videos were produced to accompany the exhibition Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre” and the Art of Invention at the Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas (May 23–August 23, 2015):

 

The following videos are excerpts of A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Gallery of the Louvre (2011), a DVD produced by the Terra Foundation for American Art to accompany the 2011 Terra Collection Initiative single-painting exhibition of the same title. A New Look provides viewers with an in-depth exploration of this major work following its conservation in 2010.

 


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