Samuel F.B. Morse painted Samuel Nelson (1792-1873) in the late 1820s when Morse spent the summer in Cherry Valley, New York, at the invitation of his cousin, James Otis Morse. A leading figure in Cooperstown, Samuel Nelson had a long, successful law career. He was Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court and later served as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. His summer law office is now located at The Farmers’ Museum
The painter Samuel F.B. Morse is best remembered as the inventor of the Morse code and the telegraph, Morse originally intended to be an artist. He studied with Benjamin West in London and aspired to be a history painter. However, finding that the majority of his commissions were for portraiture, he stopped painting in 1837.
Samuel Nelson, Samuel Morse, 1829, oil on canvas, H 38.5 x W: 33.25 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark, N0339.1955.