Una and the Red Cross Knight
As told by Robert C. Vose, Jr. (1911-1998)
|Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872), Una and the Red Cross Knight|
In late 1950, I was sound asleep in an upper New York State motel when I received a call from a private dealer with an excellent eye but too much fondness for alcohol. He said that he had found something good, and, although he was obviously drunk, I drove to Coxackie to meet him the next day. I was led to a small farm house. In the backyard the owner had set two oils on panels of identical size on a wheelbarrow. They measured 26 x 43 and were about an inch thick with grooves cut around the edges to admit screws. One was a view of the falls of the Kaaterskill by Thomas Cole, and the other a scene from Spencer’s “Faerie Queene”, Una and the Red Cross Knight. Although I didn’t know who painted the second painting, research proved it beyond any doubt to be by Samuel F. B. Morse. The two paintings were part of a set ordered for the salon of the steamship Albany being built by Philip Hone. Samuel Morse, in a later speech, listed this set as the first example of a commission to artists by industry.
I spent so long deciding what to do about the two paintings in that wheelbarrow behind the farmhouse that I got a painful sunburn on the top of my head! We bought the Morse on the spot, and sold it to the Toledo Museum on February 23, 1951. What a beautiful painting!