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Catalog entry

inv. 1
Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor
Gloucester Harbor; Gloucester Harbor (lower right: skeleton of a ship); Norman's Woe, Gloucester
1862
Oil on canvas
27 1/4 x 49 1/4 in. (69.2 x 125.1 cm)
Inscribed lower right (on tree branch): 1862 F.H.L.
On view at the Cape Ann Museum

Commentary

This is the larger and more horizontal painting of two versions taken from the sketch Norman's Woe, 1861 (inv. 114). It may have been Lane’s first attempt, as it more closely follows the drawing, particularly in its more horizontal format, and in the extent of the foreground foliage. The other version, The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), is less horizontal and has a simplified composition. In this 1862 composition, the skeleton of a double-ended yawl boat rotting on the beach has been added, with a log lying over it that leads the eye out to the two-masted pleasure craft and then out to the rock of Norman’s Woe glowing in the distance.

This is a fascinating painting in that its execution may contain evidence of both Lane's and his student Mary Mellen’s hand. Based on recent research stimulated by the exhibition and companion book Fitz Henry Lane and Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, scholars posit that Lane may have turned over some parts of his paintings to Mellen for completion. Commonly called the studio system, it was a method employed by many European painters beginning in the Renaissance in order to increase their output and take on larger commissions. 

In this case, it is theorized that Lane transferred the drawing and laid in the basic composition. It is likely that he painted a large portion of the foreground detail, the boat skeleton, rocks, and shoreline. Where Mellen’s hand seems most evident is in the sky, clouds, and general coloration. She tended to use much stronger reds in the sky and was not as proficient with the delicate glazes that Lane had mastered. She applied more paint than Lane and her edges were not as crisp—evident in some of the rock detail on the distant shore and on Norman’s Woe. Note the differences in the subtle treatment of the sky in Lane’s other version, which shows no sign of Mellen’s involvement.

This is not the only Lane painting with evidence of Mellen’s hand (or possibly the hand of an unknown student). Here Lane has signed and dated the work, which he did not always do, so he is clearly satisfied with the outcome and with putting it into the world as his work.

This theory of Mellen’s participation in some of Lane’s work is based only on stylistic evidence relating to Mellen’s paint application, line technique, and color usage. It is further corroborated—though not confirmed—by comparisons with her direct copies of Lane paintings and her later work after Lane’s death. We as yet have no direct documentary evidence of this practice; thus it remains a fascinating subject for further research. The Cape Ann Museum is fortunate to have both of these paintings that are based on the same drawing of Norman's Woe, so viewers are able to see them together and to make their own comparisons.

– Sam Holdsworth

[+] See More

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Overall infrared image. Note the tick marks and ruled vertical lines are in the same location as tho... [more]se on the drawing. Also the rocks on the island are carefully delineated in the underdrawing. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker, Cleveland Museum of Art
© Cape Ann Museum
Viewpoint chart showing Lane's location when making this image
Norman's Woe (detail of monument)
Photo: © Cape Ann Museum
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Landscape Types:   Beach »   //   Rocky Shoreline »
Seasons / Weather:   Calm Seas »   //   Sunset »
Vessel Activites:   Wreck »
Cape Ann Locales:   Norman's Woe »
Activities of People:   Pleasure Sailing »
Objects:   Beacon / Monument / Spindle »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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artwork
Norman's Woe
Fitz Henry Lane
1862
Oil on canvas
27 1/4 x 49 1/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Bequest of Margaret Farrell Lynch, 1999 (1999.76)

Detail of pleasure craft.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
[ top]
PDF
view ]
publication
Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries
John Wilmerding, Karen Quinn, Marcia Steele et al.
November 15, 2007
Unpublished report
Cape Ann Museum, Spanierman Gallery

Report on Scholars' Gathering in Association with the Exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, organized by Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, in partnership with Spanierman Gallery, and curated by Professor John Wilmerding.

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Norman’s Woe is a large rock sitting a few hundred feet off the western shore of Gloucester harbor. It lies between Gloucester and Magnolia and is just outside the confines of the harbor, if Eastern Point is used as the defining southern extent of the protected water. It can be reached from the shore at low tide over the rocks and is an island at high tide.

Tradition has it that a man named Norman was shipwrecked and lost there, but there is no historical record to substantiate it. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized it in his famous poem "The Wreck of the Hesperus" in 1840 though he never laid eyes on the rock until many years after he wrecked the Hesperus on it. His inspiration may have come from the wreck of the ship "Favorite" from Wiscasset, Maine on Norman’s Woe during the great blizzard of 1839. All hands were lost, one of whom was a woman who was found dead still tied to the mast which had floated ashore.

Because it lies outside the protection of the easterly arm of Eastern Point, Norman’s Woe and the surrounding rocky coast take the brunt of huge waves rolling in from the open ocean to the east, particularly after a storm. The high hills behind that western shore act as a wind block while tide and waves push a craft shoreward making Norman’s Woe the site of numerous shipwrecks and much loss of life through the years.

Lane did a drawing and some number of paintings of the site. He drew the rock from the shore looking to the south. Instead of the violent seas for which that shore is known he depicted it in a glassy calm. One of his landmark late paintings The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18) shows a boat drifting idly in the still late afternoon light in the cove just to the north of the rock of Norman’s Woe.

photo (historical)
Norman's Woe
Herman W. Spooner
1897
Glass negative
5 x 7 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

As noted on the reverse: "View from Rafe's Chasm, showing Reef of Norman's Woe off Magnolia. 1897."

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photo (historical)
No. 10705 The Reef of Norman's Woe, scene of the "Wreck of the Hesperus"
Underwood & Underwood, Publishers
c.1860
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo View: "Geography – Norman's Woe is a headland on the mainland of Massachusetts just south of Gloucester Harbor, which is directly before us here. That very small island, to the left of the cliff, is called Norman's Woe Rock. Both places are so named because of the shipwreck of some member of the Norman family,who were among the early settlers in this locality.

Geology – The irregular jointing shows very clearly along the face of this cliff, where the action of the wind and weathering have cleared away the loose particles between the joints.  The reason these rocks have withstood the destructive action of the erosion and weathering is because they are formed cheifly of felspar; in fact, this is a dike of that material.

Literature - Longfellow's poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus," has immortalized the traditions that centre about these shores. The pounding of the waves uon this rock-bound promontory, and the dismal howling of the wind at this point, furnished him with the inspiration needed for his most favored masterpiece. 

People and Homes - Seated upon our left is a very typical New England gentlemen, a real "down east Yankee." He exhibits all the qualities that made his ancestors so staunch in their determination to defend their adopted land."

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (Fresh Water Cove)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850: 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850: 3,213."

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map
1819 Cape Ann Harbor plan
E. Blunt
1841
Engraving of 1819 survey taken from American Coast Pilot 14th edition
9 1/2 x 8 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
D32 FF5

Also filed under: Dolliver's Neck »   //  Eastern Point »   //  Maps »   //  Ten Pound Island »

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map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
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publication
1847 Gloucester Telegraph 12.25.1847
12.25.1847
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

In this article, a moonlight view of the harbor of Cape Ann by Lane is described in detail by a viewer and his skill in depicting the Cape Ann coastline is praised. Lane's associates, Salmon and Birch, are mentioned, but as comparisons to Lane. "Those who visited his room, were highly pleased with the skill he manifested in portraying the beauties of our coast."

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1849 Gloucester Telegraph 9.22.1849
9.22.1849 (date uncertain)
Newspaper

"Mr. Lane has just completed a third picture of the Western Shore of Gloucester Harbor, including the distance from 'Norman's Woe Rock' to 'Half Moon Beach.' It was painted for Mr. William E. Coffin of Boston, and will be on exhibition at the artist's rooms for only a few days; we advise all our readers who admire works of art, and would see one of the best pictures Mr. Lane has ever executed..."

 "...solitary pine, so many years a familiar object and landmark to the fisherman."

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publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 2.28.1862
2.28.1862
Newspaper clipping
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"F.H. Lane, Esq., has recently finished a splendid painting of Norman's Woe, and scenery in the vicinity. It is a sunset scene, and gorgeous to the extreme."

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map
Locator map: Norman's Woe
H.F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
photo (historical)
Postcard of Norman's Woe
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Published by C.T. American
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publication
"The Wreck of the Hesperus"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
First published in the New World in January 1840; then published in Ballads and Other Poems in 1842.

A Narrative poem based on the Blizzard of 1839 off Norman's Woe of Gloucester, in which many ships sank and many lives lost, including that of a woman whose body washed up on shore, still tied to a mast. There was also a real vessel "Hesperus" which wrecked off of Boston.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

It was the schooner Hesperus,
      That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,
      To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
      Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
      That ope in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
      His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
      The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
      Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
      For I fear a hurricane.

"Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
      And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
      And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,
      A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
      And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain
      The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
      Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
      And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
      That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat
      Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
      And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
"'T is a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!" —
      And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
"Some ship in distress, that cannot live
      In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
      A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
      With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
      On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
      That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave
      On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
      Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
      Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
      A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
      On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
      She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
      Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
      Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
      Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
      With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
      Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
      A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
      Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
      The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
      On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
      In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
      On the reef of Norman's Woe!
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The term “wherry”—variously spelled—has a long history with many hull types, some dating from the fifteenth century. (1) The version known to Lane appears to be a variant of the dory hull form and probably was developed by French and English fishermen in the Newfoundland fisheries before 1700. (2) From that time, the wherry and the dory co-evolved, their similarities the result of their construction, their differences the result of use. By the early nineteenth century, their forms reached their final states, if fragments of contemporary descriptions are any indication. (3)

By the time Lane was depicting wherries, the type (as used for fishing) resembled a larger, wider version of a dory. The extra width was due to greater bottom width (both types had flat bottoms), with a wider transom at the stern instead of the narrow, v-shaped “tombstone.” These features are easy to see in one of his drawings (see Three Men, One in a Wherry (inv. 225)) and a painting (see Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98)), the latter depicted alongside a dory, clearly showing the differences.

No published descriptions of the uses of wherries on Cape Ann in Lane’s time have come to light, but an example in broadside view offers one use. In Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344), a pinky (in right foreground) has a dory and a wherry in tow, the latter loaded with a gill net for catching mackerel. (4) The greater size of the wherry is required for stowing the net, as well as setting it while the dory tows away one end to set it in way of the mackerel school.

In Lane’s time, wherries would have been used where bulky gear was called for in the coastal fisheries, i.e. gill nets, and fish traps such as pound nets, fyke nets, and lobster traps. Migrating fish schools (herring, mackerel) and shellfish were the target species.

The dory’s development was first dictated by its use in shore fishing, where small size and light weight made it easy to maneuver around rocks and shallows, and to haul ashore at the end of a day’s work. Its simple design made it easy and cheap to build. This is borne out by the standardized construction and sizes used by Simon Lowell’s boat shop at Salisbury Point, Massachusetts at the turn of the nineteenth century. Lowell called his boats “wherries,” but in Swampscott, Massachusetts, the fishermen, who used them called them “dories,” which may mark the beginning of the latter term’s wider use. (5)

The dories we see in Lane’s paintings are in virtually every way like the ones we know today. One of the best examples (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)) even shows interior detail, including frames, leaving no doubt about its construction. Other good examples are found in Salem Harbor, 1853 (inv. 53), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98).

For inshore fishing, dories were used to catch mackerel and herring, either with hook and line or with small nets. Hooks and line were used for flat fish (flounder, dab, and fluke), rock cod, hake, and cunner. Eels were speared (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)), clams were dug, and lobsters trapped. In Lane’s later years, the use of dories in trawling (setting long “trawl lines” with many baited hooks) was in its earliest. This method required six to ten dories carried on board a schooner to fish on the distant banks off New England and Canada. Early records of dory trawling in New England are fragmentary, giving the mid-1840s as the time of introduction. (6) The Gloucester-owned schooner "Anna"  made a successful dory trawling trip to the Grand Banks in 1854, but no depiction of this vessel by Lane has been found or recorded. (5) Despite successful early efforts, dory trawling from Gloucester was slow to be accepted, and the fishery had very limited growth prior to 1860. (7)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry et al., Aak to Zumbra (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 634.

2. John Gardner, The Dory Book (Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing Company, 1978), 5–9.

3. Ibid., 25–29.

4. John Wilmerding, ed., Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988), 89, 92. The “possibly discarded whaleboat” is definitely a wherry.

5. Gardner, 9, 10.

6. Wesley George Pierce, Goin’ Fishin’ (Salem, MA: Marine Research Society, 1934), 63–64.

7. Raymond McFarland, A History of New England Fisheries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1911), 279.

photo (historical)
Lobsterman's dory beached at Salt Island
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 114 Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
John S. E. Rogers
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, Looking Southwest. This gives a portion of the Harbor lying between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. At the time of taking this picture the wind was from the northeast, and a large fleet of fishing and other vessels were in the harbor. In the range of the picture about one hundred vessels were at anchor. In the small Cove in the foreground quite a number of dories are moored. Eastern Point appears on the left in the background."

Southeast Harbor was known for being a safe harbor.

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model
Model of the pinky "Essex" with dory and wherry alongside
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
[+]
illustration
Hull chart
In Howard I. Chappelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: Norton, 1951), p. 154

See fig. 56.

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model
Joseph A. Proctor (Gloucester, MA) fisherman's dory
Wood
Gloucester, MA
4 x 33 1/2 x 7 1/4 in (10.16 x 85.09 x 18.415 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum
Image: Peabody Essex Museum

Also filed under: Objects »   //  Ship Models »

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Yachts and yachting in ninteenth-century America were the preserve of the wealthy, and in Lane's early career were just beginning to organize as yacht clubs with scheduled regattas. The New York Yacht Club, founded in 1844, was the first such organization and had few rival clubs for racing or cruising until after the Civil War. (1) In Boston, by contrast, yachts of any size were few. Instead of regattas, competition was in the form of match races, between two vessels, with cash prizes as a substitute for trophies. Often, the only serious competition for a Boston-owned yacht was one of the crack pilot schooners, and it was not uncommon for a yacht to be sold for pilot service or vice-versa. (2)

If Lane had opportunity to portray any yachts in Boston, only his depiction of schooner "Northern Light" (see The Yacht "Northern Light" in Boston Harbor, 1845 (inv. 268)) has been found to date, and that was based on a drawing by Robert Salmon. (3) It seems likely that he would have depicted more Boston yachts, some of which images might still exist in private collections not currently accessible. For more depictions of yachts by Lane, we must look to New York.

Lane is known to have made two paintings of the schooner yacht "America." The more familiar one The Yacht "America" Winning the International Race, 1851 (inv. 255) was based on a lithograph derived from a painting by Oswald Brierly who witnessed and sketched "America" as she raced for the trophy that now bears her name. (4)

The other painting Yacht "America" from Three Views, c.1851 (not published) was very possibly based on sketches of the designer's half-model, or even the actual vessel under construction. In either case, Lane's drawings and any notes would have been made before the hull and deck details were finalized. (5)

It would not be until August 8, 1856 that Lane would see and sketch a major yacht regatta—held by the New York Yacht Club at New Bedford, Massachusetts. From this event, he painted four known views, each depicting a different moment in the race. The earliest New York Yacht Club Regatta (3), After 1856 (inv. 396) shows the yachts under way to the starting line, with the smallest yachts (third class) starting at 10:50 a.m. The second class would start at 10:55 a.m. and the first (largest yachts) at 11:00 a.m. The second view New York Yacht Club Regatta (2), 1856 (inv. 270) shows the start of the first class; the third New York Yacht Club Regatta (4), 1857 (inv. 397), the race after the start with the large sloops and schooners taking the lead. The fourth New York Yacht Club Regatta (1), 1856 (inv. 66), depicting the finish, shows the winning sloop "Julia" over the line, lowering her racing sails, while the rest of the fleet follows her to the finish line. (6 and 7)

As interest in yachting increased, so did leisure pursuits in smaller craft, using rowing and sailing boats for rowing, fishing, and day-sailing. These activities had a commercial side which is covered in the Party Boats descriptive essay, but this essay will deal with boats used for non-commercial recreation.

Hull types and rigs for small pleasure craft were varied, some being traditional work boat designs with a few added amenities for comfort. Others were designed and built for leisure boating, often in the styles of yachts, but smaller and simpler. Among rowing boats, the dory was a logical choice, the version in View of Gloucester, (From Rocky Neck), 1846 (inv. 57) (right foreground) being smaller, with a wider bottom for greater stability. New England boats (see Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 1), View of Gloucester, 1859 (inv. 91), and Castine Harbor and Town, 1851 (inv. 272)) are also to be found in settings more akin to leisure than to work. (8)

Sailing craft custom-built for pleasure were also depicted by Lane. Examples with sloop rigs are found in The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30) (left foreground), Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45) (center left), and Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts, c.1860 (inv. 60) (right foreground). The yawl rig is seen in View of Coffin's Beach, 1862 (inv. 41) (right middle ground), and schooners in Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45) (right middle ground) and View of Gloucester, Mass., 1859 (not published) (foreground). These rigs differ only moderately from today's versions; their hull designs remain popular among admirers and owners of "traditional boats."

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. William P. Stephens, Traditions and Memories of American Yachting (Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing Co., 1981), 157–59.

2. Ibid., 159–61, 164–66.

3. John Wilmerding, Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865: American Marine Painter (Salem, MA: Essex Institute,1964), 29–30.

4. Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr., "Fitz Henry Lane's Yacht America from Three Views: Vessel Portrait or Artist's Concept?," Antiques & Fine Art (Summer/Autumn 2010): 175.

5. Ibid., 174–79.

6. U.S. Nautical Magazine and Naval Journal V (October 1956–March 1857): 16–18.

7. The American Neptune X, no. 3 (July 1950): 231–34. Reprint of an unidentified newspaper account of the 1856 New Bedford Regatta by Robert Bennet Forbes.

8. See the descriptive essay on "New England Boat."

artwork
New York Yacht Club Regatta
Fitz Henry Lane
1856
Oil on canvas
28 x 50 in.
The Preservation Society of Newport County / Collection at Chepstow (PSNC.8727)

Detail of yacht.

Image: The Preservation Society of Newport County
[+]
artwork
Norman's Woe
Fitz Henry Lane
1862
Oil on canvas
27 1/4 x 49 1/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Bequest of Margaret Farrell Lynch, 1999 (1999.76)

Detail of pleasure craft.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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artwork
Drawing showing lines of the yacht "Northern Light"
William P. Stephens
Illustration from William Picard Stephens, Traditions & Memories of American Yachting (Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing Company, 1981).

See p. 163.

Image: International Marine Publishing Company
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publication
Arouse ye gay comrades
Bufford (in image); Thayer (lith.)
1840
Parker & Ditson
Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

Dedicated to the Tiger Boat Club.

Image: American Antiquarian Society
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PDF
view ]
publication
Article in The Rudder magazine about "Northern Light"
Winfield M. Thompson
1904
The Rudder Vol. XV Part 1–3; pp. 387–390, 456–460, 483–486
"Historic American Yachts: Early Boston Vessels, The Northern Light and Coquette."
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model
Model of the yacht "Northern Light" based on Lane's painting
Model by Rob Napier, photo by Erik Ronnberg
1991
wood, metal, cordage
Model of schooner yacht "Northern Light" of Boston, 1839
Scale 1:32
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model
Model of the yacht "Northern Light," stern view, based on Lane's painting
Model by Rob Napier, photo by Erik Ronnberg
1991
wood, metal, cordage
Model of schooner yacht "Northern Light" of Boston, 1839
Scale 1:32
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A "spindle" is a fixed marker to indicate a hazard to navigation (such as a rock which couldn't be seen at high tide). It serves the same purpose as a channel buoy, a "light beacon," or a “monument,” to warn vessels away from dangerous places or stretches of coastline. Spindles are usually iron rods with some sort of geometric object (round, flat, or triangular) on top, brightly painted (usually red) for visibility. Monuments, like the ones you see in Lane’s depictions of Half Way Rock or Norman’s Woe Reef, were made of stone and look like stumpy obelisks—or grave monuments. They were also essential as reference points for the early coastal surveys in their efforts to make more accurate charts.

 In Castine, the notable square monument in the center of the harbor marked Hosmer's Ledge.

Related tables: Harbor Rocks »  //  Norman's Woe »
map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
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photo (historical)
Black Rock Spindle, Gloucester Harbor
N. L. Stebbins, Publisher
1891
Photograph in The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston
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artwork
Gloucester Mackerel Fishing Fleet, Gloucester Harbor
Stephen Parrish
July 26, 1881
Pencil and ink on paper
15 x 22 1/8 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mr. Donald K. Usher, in memory of Mrs. Margaret Campbell Usher, 1984 (2401.19)
Image: Cape Ann Museum
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Hosmer Ledge Monument, off Hospital Island
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (1996.1)
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Point Allerton Monument
N.L. Stebbins, Publisher
1891
Photograph in The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston.
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Please see also: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen 

Mary Blood Mellen has emerged as one of the most talented artists to work on Cape Ann in the years immediately preceding the Civil War. Born in Vermont and raised in Sterling, Massachusetts, Mellen attended a girls' academy where she studied the art of painting in watercolor. The circumstances under which she and Lane met remain uncertain; however, by the 1850s they knew each other, and Mellen would soon begin using Lane's drawings and paintings as the basis for her own works.

Like many women artists of her generation, Mellen was a copyist, and a growing body of evidence indicates that Lane gave his student free access to his works. While evocative of Lane's paintings, Mellen's exhibit her own distinct palette, treatment of space, and level of detail. (1) 

Mellen made direct copies of more than half a dozen of Lane's favorite subjects: Gloucester Harbor, Norman's Woe, A Storm Breaking Away: Vessel Slipping her Cable, Entrance of Somes Sound, Two Ships in Rough Water, and as noted above, the Blood Family Homestead.

Lane's original of Two Ships (location unknown) was purchased by James H. Mansfield, whose sister described it as "one of the most beautiful Lanes I have ever seen—a picture of a barque dismasted, and rolling in a heavy sea. The touch was very soft and beautiful." Another Lane follower and copyist, the Gloucester artist D. Jerome Elwell, said, "that sky was painted con amore." When Lane died, Mellen's copy was said to have been on his easel at Duncan's Point.

In addition, there were other subjects Mellen painted multiple times, most notably A Smart Blow, Ten Pound Island at Sunset, and Owl's Head. These vary in quality from refined to stiffer and weaker interpretations. It makes one pause over Stevens's frequent phrase written on a number of Lane's drawings, "Paintings made from this drawing" for several listed clients.

– John Wilmerding

(1) Label, Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts.

publication
1863 Gloucester Telegraph 12.26.1863
12.26.1863
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

"The Cape Ann Sanitary Fair: [Thursday in the Curiosity Room] We noticed and particularly admired a beautiful wreath of Wax Flowers, the work of a lady artist (Mrs. Charles Mellen) who not only excels in this delicate art, but adds to it the genius so rare in women, of a high rank in oil painting. One of her landscape scenes hangs in the same room. We are happy and grateful to acknowledge again a new donation of a Painting from Mr. Lane, at half price. subject: "Little Good Harbor Beach." This, like the former, was sold at raffle and will realize to the Fair a handsome amount... The following articles were drawn in raffle: Mr. Lane's Painting of a "View from the Loaf," $100-Capt. David W. Low at one of the Town Meetings held during the Summer, the volumes presented to the Town by the City of Gloucester, Eng.,were exhibited, and the Selectmen were instructed to acknowledge the receipt of them. They did so, and also forwarded one of Lane's colored engravings of Gloucester Harbor, and one of Walling's maps of the town. [Friday] 2nd picture of Mr. Lane's, "Good Harbor Beach," $100- Mrs. Eli F. Stacy."

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chart
Blood-Mellen Family Tree
Stephanie Buck
2007
Book table

From Sarah Dunlap and Stephanie Buck, Fitz Henry Lane: Family and Friends (Gloucester, MAChurch & Mason Publishing; in association with the Cape Ann Historical Museum2007), Appendix G: Family Trees:164–66.

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artwork
Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor
Mary Blood Mellen
c.1850
Oil on canvas
14 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.
Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, Gift of Wayne P. and Virginia B. Libhart, 2005
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artwork
Moonlight View of Gloucester Harbor
Probably by Mary Blood Mellen, or possibly by D. Jerome Elwell
1870s
Oil on canvas
13 x 20 1/4 in.
Shelburne Museum, Vt.

This picture is less clearly an exact copy and more of a variation on the theme. It could be by either Mellen or D. Jerome Elwell, a Gloucester artist of a generation younger than Lane who very much admired the older man's work and consciously began his own career working in Lane's style. In this case there is an obvious hardness of surfaces, an over-meticulousness in the lighting of details, and an obviousness in the stark silhouettes—all atypical for Lane.

Elwell is a more complicated personality, but his copies after Lane are equally challenging. One was his recreation of Lane's 1856 view of Gloucester burned in the 1864 fire. After Lane's death, Elwell also "touched upon" several pictures. Others in the family, like Kilby Elwell, had artistic tastes, and as a boy, Jerome began to make pencil copies after other works.

Much younger than Lane, D. Jerome Elwell completed high school in Gloucester in the last years of Lane's life and shortly after went to Antwerp to study. This travel was made possible by the generosity of Samuel Sawyer, a patron as well of Lane's in the 1860s. During the seventies Elwell traveled around the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, at one time (it was said) sharing a studio with Whistler in Venice. Like Lane before him, he cultivated a taste for twilight and moonlight effects, though Elwell's style tended to be harsher and his colors more metallic.

– John Wilmerding

Also filed under: Elwell, D. Jerome »

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PDF
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publication
Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries
John Wilmerding, Karen Quinn, Marcia Steele et al.
November 15, 2007
Unpublished report
Cape Ann Museum, Spanierman Gallery

Report on Scholars' Gathering in Association with the Exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, organized by Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, in partnership with Spanierman Gallery, and curated by Professor John Wilmerding.

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artwork
Ten Pound Island at Sunset
Mary Blood Mellen
1870s
Oil on canvas
8 x 14 in.
Private collection

The questions about the Ten Pound Island series are further compounded by at least one version that was reworked by Elwell. An inscription on the reverse—presumably in Lane's hand—of his Ten Pound Island at Sunset reads, "Composition, F.H. Lane to J.L. Stevens." Beneath, Elwell wrote: "D. Jerome Elwell touched upon, March 13, '91."

Elwell had overpainted some of Lane's sky with even more intense and hotter cadmium reds and pinks, presumably more in keeping with later Victorian taste. The Mellen copies also tend toward a lighter and paler palette, but her versions are distinguishable ultimately for their softer rendering of rock formations and boat rigging in particular. Seen in isolation, the best of them seem very close to Lane's own hand.

– John Wilmerding

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PDF
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publication
The Lane-Mellen Association
John Wilmerding
2007
Book essay

In John Wilmerding, Fitz Henry Lane and Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries (New York: Spanierman, 2007), 40-43.

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PDF
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manuscript
Will of Fitz H. Lane
FItz. H. Lane
October 3, 1865
Essex County Probate Records, Volume 424, Leaves 34 & 35

The will disposed of Lane's property (including watch and diamond breast pin), his monetary assets, and gave to the city of Gloucester a painting of the Old Fort. Joseph Stevens, Jr. and T. Sewall Lancaster were named executors. It was signed by Lane on March 10, 1865.

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Exhibition History

2007 Cape Ann Museum: Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Mysteries of Fitz Henry Lane, no. 9, ill. in color, p. 58.

Published References

Wilmerding 1964: Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865: American Marine Painter, p. 63, Appendix A, #106, as Gloucester Harbor.
American Neptune 1965: The American Neptune, Pictorial Supplement VII: A Selection of Marine Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, plate XXVI, no. 106, as Gloucester Harbor. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1971a: Fitz Hugh Lane.
Wilmerding 1980a: American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875, fig. 61, p. 68, text, pp. 71, 78, as Norman's Woe, Gloucester.
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 79.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, pl. 30.
Wilmerding 2007: "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen," p. 169, 175.
Wilmerding 2007a: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, no. 9, ill., p. 10 (detail), text, p. 58. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2007b: Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 1)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=1 (accessed June 24, 2017).
Record last updated March 14, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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