Morse: Gallery of the Louvre (Day 64 of the 365 Days of ART)

Samuel F. B. Morse (bio here) – went to Europe in 1829 and from 1831- to 1833 he painted the amazing masterpiece called Gallery of the Louvre.

It is a large piece, 6 x 9 feet, and depicts forty (imaginary) artworks being displayed at the Louvre in Paris. This piece is owned by the Terra Foundation who all it to travel so the world can enjoy this piece and see it in person.

This painting highlighted Morse’s skill as an artist, but he did not wow people right away.  Not at all.  Many folks thought it was “over the head” of the average person and considered it to be a little too much.  (People can be so harsh at times – and they often mean well – but I think this painting’s initial reception is a reminder to not base our view on what others fail to see – sometimes we go with our gut and stay patient...)  Do you like this piece? When Morse showed it in the States.  Someone referred to it as “caviar”- saying it was too intellectual for the average person to understand and grasp.  Morse sold the piece in 1834 for $1,300 (half of what he wanted) and in the 1880s, Syracuse University acquired the piece and had it for almost one hundred years. It is now owned by the Terra Foundation and they loan it out for people to enjoy it… they paid $3.25 million for it.


One of Morse’s aims was to help more Americans learn about art.  He noted that most were unrefined and it was his goal to help change that – which is why there is emphasis on the student here. So when people criticized this as being too advanced or too much – well that shows Morse was likely right on with his aim.  Morse studied in the same way he shows us these students drawing and painting at the Louvre. There is a theme here of “copying – and learning in order to create” – reminding us that this is how we find our original voice – we need exposures and we need to learn.  We borrow, copy, and share ideas – and learn to then later express originality. The vibe created by Morse is that with the essence of art curation – and also has both men and women participating.  Further, we have cross-cultural richness (the paintings are Spanish, French, Italian, and Flemish).


Go HERE for the free pdf (sample of it is below) and to see some videos about the restoration process of Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre piece.




Thought this was interesting in the back of the Smithsonian magazine last October

And yes, this is the same Morse that is more noted for being the scientist and inventor. Morse co-invented Morse code, which is the system of communicating with series of on and off tones and it is still in use today. Did you know that Morse was also referred to as the father of American photography? Morse had many talents, but he was poor most of his life (which sometimes is exactly what some folks need – sometimes wealth and fame “changes” the output for the worse – not always, but for some people….) but Morse died a wealthy man.


A rug made with a Morse Code design: Credit: Google images











28 thoughts on “Morse: Gallery of the Louvre (Day 64 of the 365 Days of ART)

  1. The quote by Morse brought a lump to my throat. How sad Y, feel terribly sorry for him. But what you said is also true, that money and fame can change a lot of things. Btw I loved the painting – although I couldnt say exactly why. A very informative post Y – thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for catching that quote – I almost forgot to add it in when I scheduled this post – and the main reason I added it was because it gave us a feel for his handwriting – I kinda forgot about the actual quote – but it is chilling, eh?

      thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed this piece….
      peace out

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a brilliant post – I read it twice. I had no idea Samuel Morse was also an artist, and of such calibre. It is astonishing how many artists are also inventors. Clearly being artistic is intrinsic in the ability to create in other fields.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, thank you.! Every time an attack occurs in a city I have been in( Nice, Paris, Berlin) it effects me more than when I haven’t been there.
        One good thing is that it did not happen in the summer. We stood for 2 hrs. in line just to get in – I can’t imagine how many people there would have been there then. Certainly a few times 250!
        My big disappointment was the Mona Lisa. The area is roped off, but one can take a photo (at that time). I did, but all the while thinking – is that all?? I had expected much more of an awe, or something like that. It may also be the size, it’s fairly small

        Liked by 1 person

      2. well thanks for sharing, Jesh. and I can see how the familiarity leads to the heart tug even more. and I heard visitors to the Louvre were locked inside for a while…. I wonder if they were allowed to look around –


  3. You are right. For me too, that at first the piece does not draw an immediate attraction. It is a complex piece. It would take time to understand and I think picture of it does not help either. I think looking at it close would be different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi YC – I think this is truly one of those paintings one must see in real life to feel and grasp – and thankfully there is an art foundation that owns this (TERRA) and they loan it out for exhibitions – so a lot of people have access every year. I would love to see it in person someday too. It sure is BUSY….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve seen the painting before. How annoying that some people try to make art so elitist. i believe it’s for every one to interpret at the level they choose. Some days i might look at something and analyse it, other days just enjoy the image!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. same here – some days I have no words – other days maybe too much to where it is fluffing it – ha-
      and cool that you have seen this before – it truly is a busy piece. I get overwhelmed when I see too much art at one time – and so seeing so much art within a painting would maybe be a lot to take in. but i am willing to try – ha!


  5. Y., oh my gosh, you totally blew me away with this article. Sooo amazing. I loved the call-outs for which people were in the painting; I’ve never seen that before! And your pulling together of Morse’s other accomplishments, including Morse code, the antagonistic view critics had of his painting … you have a stunning gift for illuminating unusual aspects of art and artists’ lives. Thank you!
    I’m going to tweet this out on @theresajbarker!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it is really tricky – it seems to simple – dashes right – but it can hurt your head. not as bad as trying to use a compass while submerged in water – in dirty lake water – but you are so right – really tricky – but I guess it gets easier once overlearned and folks just dash away

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, just dashes, so why the fuss? 😉😂 I guess of we really had to learn it for using our mobiles for example we either wouldn’t care anymore about constant communication or we would excell at it 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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