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Samuel F. B. Morse Self-Portrait

Samuel F. B. Morse Self-Portrait
Artist
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 27 Apr 1791 - 2 Apr 1872
Sitter
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 27 Apr 1791 - 2 Apr 1872
Date
1812
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on millboard
Dimensions
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")
Topic
Interior
Costume\Outerwear\Cape
Self-portrait
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Male
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Visual Arts\Artist\Painter
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Visual Arts\Artist\Portraitist
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Communications\Journalist
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Visual Arts\Art Instructor
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Education\Founder\College
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Science and Technology\Inventor
Samuel Finley Breese Morse: Science and Technology\Inventor\Telegraph
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; this acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution from the James Smithson Society
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.80.208
Exhibition Label
Born Charlestown, Massachusetts
Although best known for developing the electromagnetic telegraph, Samuel Morse began his career as an artist. He painted this self-portrait as a twentyyear-old art student in London. After returning to the United States in 1815, Morse supported himself as a portraitist while struggling to attract an audience for his history paintings. He was particularly disappointed not to receive a government commission to create artwork for the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Morse’s failure to secure government patronage might have resulted, in part, from his nativist, anti-Catholic, and anti-abolitionist politics.
Morse had first studied electricity as a student at Yale College (1805–10). In 1832, he conceived of a device to send coded messages via electric wire. Although others had devised electric telegraphs, Morse’s machine achieved international success for its efficient design. The telegraph and development of Morse Code brought him fame and fortune while marking a significant advance in long-distance communications technology.
Nacido en Charlestown, Massachusetts
Aunque más conocido por desarrollar el telégrafo electromagnético, Samuel Morse fue artista en sus comienzos. Pintó este autorretrato a los 20 años de edad, cuando estudiaba arte en Londres. Tras su regreso a EE.UU. en 1815, se ganó la vida como retratista mientras intentaba interesar al público en sus pinturas históricas. Lo decepcionó especialmente que el gobierno no le encargara ninguna obra para la rotonda del Capitolio. Es posible que esta falta de auspicio se debiera en parte a las ideas nativistas, anticatólicas y antiabolicionistas de Morse.
Morse había estudiado la electricidad por primera vez en Yale College (1805–10). En 1832 concibió un aparato para enviar mensajes en código a través de un cable eléctrico. Aunque otros habían ideado telégrafos eléctricos, la máquina de Morse tuvo éxito internacional por su diseño eficiente. El telégrafo y el desarrollo del código Morse le trajeron fama y fortuna, a la vez que marcaron avances significativos en la tecnología de la comunicación a larga distancia.
Provenance
Mrs. Allen W. Hagenbach [Meriam Klappinger]; her nephew John Heyl, Boothbay Harbor, Maine; purchased 1980 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery