Painting Inspires Commemorative Stamp

Neapolitan artist Michele Felice Corné (1752-1845) arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in July 1800, where he quickly established himself as an accomplished artist. Shortly after his arrival, the East India Marine Society commissioned him to paint a series of maritime-themed fireboards to embellish rooms in their newly opened museum of “natural and artificial curiosities.” Active in Salem, Boston, and in Newport, Rhode Island, Corné’s popularity grew rapidly – within his first decade of work in the United States, he was renowned across the region for his marine scenes, ship portraits, landscapes, panoramas, and murals.

The gouache and watercolor painting is the earliest known depiction of USS Constitution, believed to have been painted by Corné in the spring of 1803. It depicts Constitution’s original Hercules figurehead destroyed just a few months later in a collision with USS President off Tripoli.

This painting is depicted on a USPS 2012 Forever stamp to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The stamp will be unveiled in the Charlestown Navy Yard, part of Boston National Historical Park, on August 18th at 10 am. Free and open to the public. The painting by Corné is on display at the USS Constitution Museum.

painting of USS Constitution
“Constitution” Michele Felice Corné  (c.1803) Courtesy Navy Art Collection. Courtesy USS Constitution Museum, Boston