Samuel F. B. Morse
Nationality & Life Dates:
American, 1791 –
Portrait of Mrs. Morse and Two Children
Oil on canvas
43 1/4 x 34 inches
Gift of Sandra Morse Hamilton and Patricia Morse Sawyer in memory of Bleecker, Patricia, and Bleecker Morse, Jr., and through prior gift of Margaret and John L. Hoffman.
On View - Stent Family Wing, Second Level, Gallery 207
Samuel Morse is chiefly remembered as an inventor, specifically for the development of the telegraph. In the early nineteenth century, however, he was regarded as New York’s leading portrait painter. This tender, elegant image of his wife and children, which has descended through the Morse family over the years, resonates with both private and public meaning. A celebration of domestic relationships, it belongs to a genre of portraits that first became popular during the mid eighteenth century, a time known as the Age of Enlightenment. By giving new emphasis to the maternal role in family life—an influence that increasingly challenged paternal authority at home—these portraits reveal the changing ideas about domestic life promoted by such thinkers as Jean Jacques Rousseau.