Samual Morse at SAM

September 21, 2015

 

We had a free afternoon on Sunday and ventured to the Seattle Art Museum to see an exhibit about Samuel Morse. There had been an article in the Seattle Times about this unusual exhibit. Apparently Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse code and the telegraph was a trained artist before his venture into this technology. He wished for everyday people, or at least as many people as possible in America to see the works of the great masters in the Louvre. To accomplish this task, he painted a large canvas of an assortment of great Louvre works hung salon style so that he could include them in one large piece and shipped it back to the states. Unfortunately his work was not that well received and he abandoned his painting but soon discovered a new technology: photography. Morse became one of the first American photographers in around 1840 and soon set up shop to teach the art of portrait photography. Accompanying the large canvas at SAM are some examples of daguerreotypes (a type of early photograph) the documentary video accompanying the exhibit gives a good insight into his life. He was quite the tinkerer and restoring and cleaning the Louvre piece was a challenge since he made his own compounds to paint with some of which are a bit unconventional. Anyway, this is an interesting but small exhibition. I wouldn't necessarily make a special trip to see it unless I were a SAM member.

 

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