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Samuel F. B. Morse Self-Portrait

Samuel F. B. Morse Self-Portrait
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 27 Apr 1791 - 2 Apr 1872
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 27 Apr 1791 - 2 Apr 1872
Oil on millboard
Board: 27.3 x 22.5 x 0.3cm (10 3/4 x 8 7/8 x 1/8")
Frame: 35.6 x 30.5 x 4.8cm (14 x 12 x 1 7/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Charlestown, Massachusetts
Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, was first an artist who helped found the National Academy of Design (1826) in order to elevate and support the arts. But around 1832 he became fascinated with the idea of sending messages via electric wire. With no scientific or mechanical training, Morse devised an elegant machine that sent coded messages by opening and closing an electrical circuit. Although the government neglected the telegraph, private businesses seized on the new invention as a great leap forward in communications technology. At a time when railways and water transportation were binding the country together, Morse did the same with a network of instantaneous communication. Speed has always characterized America, and Morse’s breakthrough was the gigantic first step in creating ever-faster means of communicating.
Mrs. Allen W. Hagenbach [Meriam Klappinger]; her nephew John Heyl, Boothbay Harbor, Maine; purchased 1980 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 120