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A Taste of France: Eleven Celebrates Samuel Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre

Samuel F.B. Morse

Samuel F.B. Morse

On January 23, Crystal Bridges welcomes Samuel F.B. Morse’s historic masterpiece Gallery of the Louvre, featured in a temporary exhibition by the Terra Foundation for American Art.  

Samuel F.B. Morse, 1791-1872 "Gallery of the Louvre," 1831-1833 Oil on canvas Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Daniel J. Terra Collection

Samuel F.B. Morse, 1791-1872
“Gallery of the Louvre,” 1831-1833
Oil on canvas
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Daniel J. Terra Collection

Known today primarily for his role in the development of the electromagnetic telegraph and Morse code, Samuel Morse began his career as a painter. In 1829, Morse embarked upon a three-year period of study in Paris, culminating in Gallery of the Louvre, in which the artist chose masterpieces from the Louvre’s collection and depicted them as if they had been exhibited together in one of the museum’s grandest spaces. Gallery of the Louvre was praised by critics and connoisseurs as a work of visual and technical complexity; but it failed to capture the imagination of the public. Crushed by the lukewarm public response, Morse soon ceased painting altogether, moving on to his more successful experiments with the electromagnetic telegraph, and, most famously, Morse code. Today, the painting is known as one of Morse’s finest and most important works. 

Crystal Bridges Executive Chef Bill Lyle

Crystal Bridges Executive Chef Bill Lyle

To celebrate the exhibition of this historic painting at Crystal Bridges, Eleven’s Executive Chef Bill Lyle has created a special three-course Tasting Menu inspired by classic French cuisine.  The new menu will become available for diners on Thursday, January 21.  In today’s post, Lyle offers blog readers a sneak peek at delicious things to come. –LD

Lyonnaise Salad Soft-poached duck egg, Ozark bacon lardon, cherry tomatoes, and caramelized shallots on crisp frisée lettuce with white-truffle vinaigrette In an era that still excluded women artists in museums, Samuel F.B. Morse made a point to note female artists painting in the Louvre.  The chefs of Eleven pay homage to another female artist: Eugenie Brazier (1895-1977)—“The Mother of French Cooking”—for being the first French chef, male or female, to earn six Michelin stars, and for turning Lyon into the gastronomic capital of France.

Scallops au gratin Yukon Gold potatoes, cauliflower béchamel, and Gruyere cheese gratin, topped with seared jumbo scallops and fresh horseradish hollandaise At the time Gallery of the Louvre was painted, it was customary to present such large-scale works in a single-painting exhibition.  Here at Eleven, we believe that dining out should be enjoyed in the same fashion. Chef Bill Lyle says: “Every day we see art all around us and consume food for sustenance; but once in a while we need to stop and enjoy it as the main event.” The Scallops Au Gratin is just that—the main event.

Buttermilk Beignets V Cinnamon and sugar-dusted beignets with a Kyya white-chocolate and blueberry-jam pot de crème While enjoyed by critics, Gallery of the Louvre was rejected by the public.  This crushed Morse’s passion for painting. Morse’s subsequent work with the telegraph helped to make trans-Atlantic communication possible, shortening the gap between the United States and Europe. This cross-cultural connection is deliciously represented with classic beignets, originally a French specialty, but today associated more frequently with New Orleans: the cultural and culinary melting pot of America.

Go online and make your reservations for dinner in Eleven today, or call 479-418-5700 Option 2. Remember:  The Museum and Eleven are now open until 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings.

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

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