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Samuel F.B. Morse carte-de-visite – AA/PG Library

Morse reduced
recto: Samuel F.B. Morse
(born Charlestown, MA, 1781; died New York, NY,1872)
rear: Carte-de-visite photographer: Mathew Brady Studios, New York, NY & Washington, DC 

Samuel Morse is most known for his invention of the first
practical electromagnetic telegraph and the code that bears his name.  As a result of the telegraph, Morse was one
of the most celebrated inventors in the 19th century America.  However, he did not set out to be an
inventor, but spent most of his life dedicated to art. 

Morse, the son of a Calvinist minister, attended Yale, where
he acquired knowledge of science and electricity which he would later use to
invent his telegraph.  At Yale, he also began
sketching and painting, first starting with portraiture.  After college, he became an informal student
of the artist Washington Allston who took Morse with him to London in
1811.  Morse studied in London for four
years, and when he returned to the United States, he became a successful portrait
painter which supported his forays into his preferred classical and literary
painting.   His most notable sitters
included the Marquis de Lafayette, President John Adams, and fellow inventor
Eli Whitney.  Morse later went on to
found the National Academy of Design in New York, and after meeting Louis
Daguerre in 1839, he also became a pioneer in American photography.

The National Portrait Gallery has a self-portrait by Morse, one at about age 21, among many portraits by the artist and the American Art Museum also owns a group-portrait of the artist's brother's family.  The photograph for this carte-de-visite (in the Smithsonian Libraries' collection) served as a the source for Morse's image on a postage stamp.  Additionally the Smithsonian Libraries has many books on this artist and inventor. —Doug Litts



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