Faculty are invited to sign up for “Decoding Morse”: Cross-Disciplinary Conversation and a Viewing of Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre. Moderated by Morna O’Neill, Associate Professor of Art History, this event will take place on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 3pm at Reynolda House. This collaboration between the Reynolda House Museum of American Art and the Humanities Institute takes place during the exhibition, Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention (February 17, 2017 – June 4, 2017).
In Spring 2017, Reynolda House Museum of American Art will welcome an American masterwork, Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre (1831–33). Created when the artist was living and working in Paris, the painting represents the famed Salon Carée in the Musée du Louvre. Morse spent months painting in the Louvre. Rather than faithfully representing the paintings that were hanging in the gallery, however, Morse carefully curated his ideal installation. He walked the halls of the museum, selecting Old Master paintings for his composition, then painstakingly copied the paintings and “installed” them in the virtual gallery. He also included several figures, including himself, in the center, instructing a young woman, and his good friend James Fenimore Cooper, the American writer, shown with his family. The resulting monumental canvas – six feet by nine feet – was both an example of Morse’s erudition and skill and a tool of instruction for American viewers who did not have access to Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
Morse created the Gallery of the Louvre to instruct American audiences about important works of art. Addressing complex themes such as the relationship between art and science, literature and theatre, geography and mapping, artistic practice and the establishment of the canon, invention and technology, and religion, the painting provides faculty an apt occasion for cross-disciplinary conversation.
Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention was organized by and with support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. Reynolda House is grateful for the generous sponsorship of this exhibition from Major Co-Sponsor Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Contributing Sponsors the Terra Foundation for American Art and an anonymous donor, and Exhibition Partners Joia Johnson and Jeff and Sissy Whittington.