Early Morse Art
"Despite the fact that Samuel Morse painted the portraits of U.S. Presidents, military heroes, and many prominent Americans, what he really wanted to be was a 'historical painter' in the mode of the
great American artist John Trumbull."
-Jason Hiner, "Samuel Morse: The Engineer Who Painted a Masterpiece"
Samuel Morse received critical acclaim in 1812 for his 8-foot by 6-foot painting of "Dying Hercules."
"My great picture also has not only been received at the Royal Academy, but has one of the finest places in the rooms. It has been spoken of in the papers, which you must know is considered a great compliment."
-Samuel F.B. Morse, letter June 13, 1813
"It is a full-length, standing figure, the size of life."
-Samuel F.B. Morse, letter
Samuel Morse was in Washington, D.C. painting a life-size portrait of General Lafayette in February 1825 when he learned of his wife's death.
"It will be eleven feet by seven and a half feet... It will take me until October next to complete it."
-Samuel F.B. Morse, letter January 2, 1822
Samuel Morse's "House of Representatives" was the painter's first venture into historical painting. Morse inserted his personal life into the painting by adding the images of his father and his professors at Yale. Morse wanted to charge admission to view his historical painting, but the public did not show.