Samuel F. B. Morse (American, Charlestown, Massachusetts 1791–1872 New York)
Image: 5 x 4.2 cm (1 15/16 x 1 5/8 in.), oval
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Not on view
Samuel F. B. Morse met Louis Daguerre, the French inventor of photography, in Paris in the spring of 1839. Morse was the first American to see a daguerreotype and among the earliest artists in the United States to experiment with the new medium. This simple portrait of an unknown sitter, who clearly strains to keep his eyes open during the long, twenty-to-thirty minute exposure, is the only extant daguerreotype by Morse and one of the earliest photographs made in America. The strength of the portrait is in the young man's rapt expression, which seems to reflect a subtle awareness of his participation in a grand endeavor. The mindful sitter is one of the first in photography to return the gaze of the viewer.
Inscription: Incised on mat: "S.F.B. Morse"
[Rinhart Galleries]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, July 19, 1982
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861," September 11, 2000–January 7, 2001.
Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 76.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 89.
Voorsanger, Catherine Hoover, and John K. Howat, ed. Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861. New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. no. 160.