Gallery of the Louvre

I know this is not the type of picture you expect on this blog, but it’s one that been on my mind lately as I’ve worked on our new exhibit. This painting will not be in our exhibit, but it is one that I came across while doing research for our exhibit. The painting above is titled Gallery of the Louvre and was painted by Samuel F. B. Morse between 1831–33. Morse  is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph—and for “Morse” code—but he began his career as a painter and rose to the Presidency of the National Academy of Design in New York. Morse always wanted to be known as a great painter and never liked the fame he received for his invention. That could be because he got the idea from someone else, although the name escapes me at the moment.

The monumental Gallery of the Louvre (it measures  73.75 in. x 108 in.) is Morse’s masterwork. It is currently owned by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of the Daniel J. Terra Collection. Gallery of the Louvre  was Morse’s ambitious effort to capture images of the Louvre’s great paintings and transport them across the ocean and throughout the country, to the republic’s young cities and villages, so that art and culture could grow there.

Morse was one of the major historical figures I researched while I was writing my (never completed) dissertation. While this is an unusual post for me, I have had such a great time delving into my old research again to prepare for this exhibit, and I wanted to share some of it. It’s been a lot of work, and I’ve been incredibly busy. So, if my posts are not exactly substantial for the next couple of weeks, it’s because my creative endeavors have been focused elsewhere, and considering that I’m not a very creative person, there isn’t much creativity to spare at the moment, but I’ll continue to do my best.

The people in Gallery of the Louvre are real people known to Morse, and the paintings within the painting are famous works from the Louvre. One of the people is Morse himself.

1) Samuel F. B. Morse
2) Titian’s Francis I, 1539
3) The American writer James Fenimore Cooper, his wife Susan, and their daughter also named Susan
4) American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who was probably most famous for the monstrosity that he sculpted of George Washington (which could be a whole other post in itself)
5) Richard West Habersham, a young American portraitist from Georgia, who was Morse’s roommate in Paris
6) Possibly a woman named Miss Joreter, who took lessons from Morse in the Louvre
7) Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini, known famously as the Mona Lisa


Pic of the Day


Headache

I had a really bad migraine last night. It was one of the worst I’ve had in a while. I wasn’t up for writing anything for today.


Pic of the Day

After a long day at work doing exhibit installs, this is all I want to do: take off my pants and lay on the couch for a nap.


Museums

I’ve always enjoyed museums. I love history and art, so museums are right up my alley. I guess it’s a good thing since I now work in a museum. Before I started working full-time at my current museum, I don’t think I’d really ever thought about what went into the exhibits that you see in museums. Most museums have permanent exhibits that rarely change, but most also have changing exhibits. Those changing exhibits are a lot of work, something I had realized before I started helping install them.

What I really never realized is how much planning goes into creating an exhibit. Once you have a topic, then there is a lot of research to be done on both the topic and the objects to be put on display. Then the labels telling visitors about what is on display have to be written. Sometimes, those labels are what we call tombstone labels: object name, material, collection number, and how the museum acquired the object. Other labels are longer, interpretive labels which tell a fuller story of the object. These labels can be the most fascinating, but a lot of work goes into writing and researching them.

Until the current exhibit that we are installing, which will open early next month, I had only conducted minor research, written interpretive labels, and assisted with the installation. While our upcoming exhibit is mostly art and contains only a few interpretive labels, there is still a lot of work that goes into planning. Most of that work has fallen on me because the topic of the art in the exhibit is very similar to my dissertation research. Also, our other curator had left and our new one did not start until two and a half weeks ago. So, I’ve been planning paint colors for the gallery, choosing artwork to be featured and the frames for that artwork, and designing the layout of the exhibit. All of that has been in the planning stage for months. Now, comes the harder part: putting it all together.

Last week, we decided what paintings would go where, and yesterday we began hanging the artwork. By the way, there is a lot of math involved in hanging artwork, something I’m not good at. Thankfully, our new curator is. She is very precise, and she knows what she’s doing. It’s now all coming together, and it’s nice to see what had been in my head for months now in reality. There is still a lot to do, but we seem to be mostly on schedule, as long as we don’t get another 11.5” of snow that prevents most people from making it in to work. (knock on wood)

If you’ve never thought before about the installation process for the exhibits when you visit a museum, look around the exhibit and try to understand just how much hard work went into installing the exhibit that you are admiring. There are a lot of jobs out there that we don’t often appreciate how much work goes into them, which is why I am always as kind as I can be to waitstaff at a restaurant. I know they are working hard. This is alao why I hate the saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.”

Teachers do far more work than most people think. A good teacher is always trying to anticipate their students needs and are constantly planning for their classes, and while most people think that teachers work from 8 am to 3 pm, the average person (and student) doesn’t realize that a teacher’s day begins well before they head to school and continues long after they get home. Most teachers get a one hour planning period each day, and while you can grade papers and prepare assignments during that hour, an hour is nowhere near long enough. Teachers often work well into the night getting everything done, and they often do it with low pay.

In other words, look around you today and realize just how much work the people around you are doing so that your day is a bit more enjoyable. Be considerate to others and appreciate all the people around you.


Pic of the Day

The answer to today’s riddle is the poem’s title:
“On Snow”


A Riddle by Jonathan Swift

A Riddle

From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.
No lady alive can show such a skin.
I’m bright as an angel, and light as a feather,
But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together.
Though candor and truth in my aspect I bear,
Yet many poor creatures I help to insnare.
Though so much of Heaven appears in my make,
The foulest impressions I easily take.
My parent and I produce one another,
The mother the daughter, the daughter the mother.

This is a poem/riddle by the satirist Jonathan Swift. I’m going to take a page from BosGuy’s Friday Brain Teaser, and so, I’m not going to post the title of this poem until later this afternoon. I’d like to see if you can figure out the title. BosGuy waits to approve the guesses in the comments until later, I’ve changed my comments, only for today, so that you can comment your answer. After the Pic of the Day posts, I will approve all of the comments for the riddle answers. Any other comments to other posts will be approved as soon as I see them. Don’t cheat and look up the poem. Instead, give it a real shot to see if you can guess the answer to the riddle.

Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 20, 1667, and spent his adult life alternately living in Ireland and England. A satirist known for his sharp wit and unforgiving criticism of politics, religion, and society, Swift is best known for his satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Though best known for his prose, Swift also wrote a number of poems in his lifetime, most of which were also humorous in tone and written under pseudonyms. Swift died in Dublin on October 19, 1745.

By the way, I think Swift would have had a field day with our previous defeated, loser, and twice-impeached president. Can you imagine? I’m sure it would have been good, at least for those who did not like the former president.


A Note About Blog Comments

For the next 20 hours or so, all comments will be moderated and need approval before posting. You’ll see why in tomorrow’s poetry post.

Thanks


Pic of the Day


Decisions, Decisions

Every night, I plan out what I am going to wear the next day. I used to plan things out a week ahead, and while I still have a vague idea of what I’ll wear each day to work, I usually make the final decision the night before. However, when it comes to plans for events, whether at the museum or out with friends, I tend to plan those outfits well in advance. This week, I don’t have any events, and I’ll mostly be installing the new exhibit, so I will dress for comfort. I will also dress for the weather. Today is expected to be quite a snowy day, though the temperatures will be more mild. The rest of the week, the mornings will be significantly colder as I’ll wake up each day with subzero temperatures.

Some of you probably think I’m silly or shallow because I worry so much about what I’ll wear, but truthfully, I wish deciding my outfit for the day was the only decision I had to make. I’m still looking for an apartment. I’ve found a few that are available but getting someone to answer my inquiries has proved to be quite an issue. Also, I really have to decide what is actually affordable for me because rent has gone up here by quite a bit. I also need to decide how far away from work I want to live. I’m pretty certain I have no desire to live in the same town where I work, which I have done for the past six years or so. It always seemed because I’d lived the closest, then I get called on to deal with more stuff. Take today for instance, the snow is supposed to be terrible and I may be the only one who can make it into work. That can get annoying real quick.

When the time comes for me to make the final decision about a new apartment, I only hope that Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”