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Catalog entry

inv. 109
Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut
1850s
Graphite on paper (2 sheets)
10 1/2 x 29 in. (26.7 x 73.7 cm)
Inscribed across bottom (in pencil): Gloucester Outer Harbor / from the Cut / F.H. Lane del / Picture for Mrs. Davidson painted from this sketch

Commentary

The Cut was the canal dug to connect the Outer Harbor of Gloucester to the Annisquam River, so that vessels, especially those heavily laden with granite from the quarries, could avoid having to sail around the exposed eastern shoreline. In this drawing, Lane looks from the Cut across the beach of Steepbank Cove (named after the large house on the hill) towards Stage Head. 

This drawing has long been suspected to be the sketch for Lane’s painting Stage Fort across Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 237). Recent examination of its third (left) sheet Untitled (inv. 222), previously unidentified as such, completes the image we see in the painting with Eastern Point, Stage Fort, and Fishermen’s Field (now  Stage Fort Park) in near-perfect registration. Even the larger rocks lining the intertidal zone agree closely in shape and location. Only in the immediate foreground did Lane modify what he recorded in his drawing, adding vegetation, a wrecked New England boat, and driftwood.

The left edge of the drawing’s center sheet has been trimmed, leaving a gap 1-1/4 inches wide in the reassembled image. No trimming was done to the left sheet (Untitled (inv. 222)) whose reverse side was used for another drawing (Gloucester from Steepbank, c.1855 (inv. 125)). The inscription on the drawing of Steepbank Cove states that Lane made a painting for Mrs. Davidson (a good friend and the wife of his physician) after this drawing. A possible answer for the missing segment was that the center sheet’s overlapping left edge was cut off and later removed from the left sheet’s right edge, to which it had been glued.

The drawing was ruled vertically to create eight sections of equal width (five inches), and horizontally to create a horizon line over its full width. This preparation strongly suggests that a viewing aid, such as a camera lucida, or a viewing frame of unknown design, was used in the sketching process. The outlines and contours of rocks and terrain were lightly drawn, followed by denser treatment of the rocks and soil erosion along the shore line. 

The drawing’s width (not counting end margins) is forty inches in its reconstructed state, with the eight 5-inch-wide sections. For the painting, the drawing was scaled up fifty percent with 7-1/2-inch-wide sections. Image height (sea and land only) has the same proportions in both drawing and painting. It would be useful to know if these lines could be seen in the painting, using infrared reflectography scanning (See essay by conservator Marcia Steele, "Conservation Techniques for Examination of Paintings").

–Erik Ronnberg

[+] See More

Verso

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Viewpoint map showing Lane's location when making this drawing.
(inv.109 and inv. 222)
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Landscape Types:   Beach »
Seasons / Weather:   Sunset »
Cape Ann Locales:   Gloucester Harbor, Outer »   //   Stage Fort / Rocks »

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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Steepbank (sometimes spelled "Steep Bank") was a house near Fresh Water Cove which, in Lane's time, served as a summer estate for brothers, Eben and Theron Dale. It had been built for “an artist” named “Mr. Eddy” in 1845, was next owned by a “Mr. Homer,” and then by a “Mr. C. B. Fessenden." Around 1858 it was purchased by Eben Dale.

map
Plan of Stage Fort Park showing location of Steepbank
1898
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
1543 plan 0141_0002

The third of the three plans has the references on it. "Plan showing the taking of land, flats and beach for Stage Fort Park…1898..."

Includes a reference to the home of Mary Turnbull which is Steepbank.

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 239 Gloucester from Steep Bank
Frank Rowell, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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publication
1858 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.2.1858
Procter Brothers
1858
Newsprint
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"We visited the studio of Mr. Fitz H. Lane a few days since, and were much pleased in examining some fine paintings from the pencil of this talented artist. Among the collection was a view of Long Beach, in this town, with which we were particularly interested.

The scene is taken immediately after a storm. The waves with their snowy crests are rolling in upon the beach, breaking against the sides of a vessel which has been driven ashore. In the background is seen the residence of Mr. Fessenden, and the surrounding scenery; on the right are visible the high headlands near the residence of Mr. Geo. Hovey, while stretching far away in the distance may be seen Fresh Water Cove, Dolliver's Neck, and the Old Pine Tree, the whole forming a beautiful picture and true to Nature.

Several other paintings were in process of completion, one a beautiful sunset scene, which was really beautiful to gaze upon; also a view of a gale at sea, with a gallant ship plunging madly through the waves, forming a striking contrast to the mild placid scene of the picture at its side.

Mr. Lane's paintings are true to nature, and in viewing them one can but admire the skill and genius of this talented artist, We advise all lovers of the art, who wish to spend an hour pleasantly, to visit the studio of Mr. Lane on Locust St. We can assure them that they will come away highly gratified, and have an earnest desire to call again." (1)

(1) See p. 2, column 3, Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
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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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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 54 Dolliver's Neck
Published by John S. E. Rogers
c.1860
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Taken from Steepbank, on the western side of Gloucester Harbor, and showing a small boat at anchor in the cove, then the Neck, and the sea beyond.

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letter
F. H. Lane letter to Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
Fitz Henry Lane
n.d.
Letter
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

". . . will fully appreciate all that I have done in my garden, in ornamenting it, with flowers and plants, Rustic Arbours and Statues, and I only wish that you could be here to witness and enjoy his [Dr. J. L. Stevens] expressions of delight and interest, when a new flower attracts his attention, or some beauty of arrangement meets his eye. Samuel [B. Stevens of Castine] he tells me came up with the expectation of going on a voyage to Australia, but when he arrived in Boston he found the vessel with her compliment of men, and it is very uncertain if he goes in her. Your Mother and all at home are well. I yesterday made a sketch of Stage Fort and the surrounding scenery, from the water. Piper has given me an order for a picture from this point of view, to be treated as a sunset. I shall try to make something out of it, but it will require some management, as there is no foreground but water and vessels. One o’clock, it is very hot, the glass indicates 84° in my room, with the windows all open and a light breeze from the east, this is the warmest day . . .

. . . than devoting it to you. Since writing you last I have painted but one picture worth talking about and that one I intend for you if you should be pleased with it. It is a View of the beach between Stage Fort and Steep bank including Hovey’s Hill and residence, Fresh water cove and the point of land with the lone pine tree. Fessenden’s house, likewise comes into the picture. The effect is a mid day light with a cloudy sky, a patch of sunlight is thrown across the beach and the breaking waves, an old vessel lies stranded on the beach with two or three figures, there are a few vessels in the distance and the Field rocks likewise show at the left of the picture. I think you will be pleased with this picture, for it is a very picturesque scene especially the beach, as there are many rocks which come in to destroy the monotony of a plain sand beach, and I have so arranged the light and shade that the effect I think is very good indeed, however you will be better able to judge of that when you see it, the size is 20 x 33. . ."

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map
Plan of Stage Fort Park showing Steepbank
1898
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
1543 plan 0141_0001

The third of the three plans has the references on it “Plan showing the taking of land, flats and beach for Stage Fort Park…1898…”

Includes a reference to the home of Mary Turnbull which is Steepbank.

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The Cut is the local name given to the canal that connects the outer Gloucester harbor to the navigable Annisquam River and thence on to the waters north of Cape Ann, so that vessels can in safety avoid circling the entire exposed eastern shoreline. It provided a vantage point for Lane's drawing Gloucester Beach from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 103)  It was dug through the strip of beach separating the two bodies of water, first in the 1640s by the Reverend Richard Blynman, and is officially the Blynman Canal. This is purportedly the first canal dug in North America. For much of its history, however, the Cut has been filled in and the beach in its original state with a road laid over it, instead of cut through with a bridge over the canal (until 1950 and Route 128, the only vehicular access from the mainland to the Gloucester and Rockport peninsula). For a brief time around 1704 the canal was filled in by a storm but was soon dredged and re-opened.  Then in 1723 it was again filled in by storms and did not get dug out until after 1822. 

At this time, a consortium of Gloucester's leading men, most of them connected then and later with Lane, formed the company "Proprietors of the Gloucester Canal." They included Benjamin K. Hough, Jr.; James Mansfield; William Pearce, Jr.; John Mason; William Saville; Samuel Gilbert; and Winthrop Sargent. They managed to get the canal re-dug and a bridge in place, but the opening was too narrow to allow vessels of useful size to pass through. The bridge was also deemed unsafe. The company lost money and by 1843, the Cut was being refilled by the Town. During all the rest of Lane's life, the Cut as a canal did not exist. One could travel on a road, over sand, from the Pavilion, past the Ropewalk and the houses along the shore, to the western shores of the Harbor, Brookbank, Fresh Water Cove, and many other scenes and sites from which Lane painted. However, Lane and others continued to designate that section of their town as "The Cut."

After Lane's death, the quarrying interests on Wolf Hill (near the eastern end of the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge) were sufficiently motivated to reopen the canal in 1867.

– Sarah Dunlap (December, 2014)

map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Old First Parish)
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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publication
The Germ 2.1848
John Piper, ed.
1848
Newsprint
D14-7
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

A short article entitled "The Cut," and signed "Little Fellow" describes the southwestern part of Gloucester and the beach between the Canal and the Old Fort. 

Also filed under: Piper, John J. »   //  Ropewalk »

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manuscript
1852 Journal of John M. Stevens
John M. Stevens
September 1–November 18, 1852
Personal journal
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Box 2, F1 (A00772)

John Stevens was the younger brother of Joseph Stevens, and acquainted with Lane, spending time with him in Gloucester and at the family home in Castine. His journal, quoted below, includes reference to hunting plover and teal, school, sailing, local events. Mentions Castine mill, lighthouse, and block house.

"Friday [September] 17th: Cloudy all day. Wind N. blowing quite hard. A British Rig loaded with salt from Liverpool came into port last night. She run way up by the Monument and got aground. They kedged her off this P.M. and came down. She came in with one of these old English charts as her guide. They have the town set down on the Brooksville side, two miles + three quarters from the lighthouse."

"Wednesday [September] 22. . .Went down to the Indians Camp on the Back Cove. There were five camps of them." 

Visits Gloucester from Castine:

"Wednesday [October] 27th. . .Left for Gloucester [from Boston] at 5 o'clock this P.M. arrived there safe + sound at 6 1/2 o'clock; went right down to the store and saw Joe. We then went up to his house and got supper.

"Thursday [October] 28th. At. Gloucester. Pleasant day. Went down to the "Cut" a gunning this morning before breakfast but saw no birds. Went out in the harbor this forenoon alone, had a fine sail but couldn't get a chance at any birds. Went out again this P.M. got down to East Point Light and the wind died all away, so I had to scull home."

"Friday 29th. Very pleasant day, went out in the harbor this morning with Joe. Took a walk this A.M. with "Lina", called on Mr. Lane + Doct. Hildreth. Joe + I went out in the harbor this P.M. I fired at some birds several times, but didn't get any. . . ."

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publication
1862 Gloucester Telegraph 3.8.1862
3.8.1862
Newsprint
Gloucester Telegraph

"The Reef of Norman's Woe ... is now commemorated in painting too, one of the finest pictures from Lane's easel. ... The sketch was made at the pretty spot commonly called, we believe, Master Moore's Cove.  Being some little way off the main track to Rafe's Chasm, it is seldom visited, except by the more inquisitive lovers of nature who leave the beaten road to pry out such pleasant places. ... We wish it might find a home buyer, rather than go off to enrich another community." Flowery description follows, then "There is another and larger work in the artist's studio, which, happily, is to be retained. It received much well deserved notice and commendation. The subject is a view southward from the 'Cut,' with the picturesque promontory commonly known as 'Stage Fort,' and historically interesting as the supposed spot of the 'Landing at Cape Ann' in the middle distance, and Eastern Point on the extreme left." More description follows, "Among other attractions of the studio, and particularly worthy of mention, is a cabinet picture with an effect similar to the Norman's Woe. The subject is chosen from the many sketches of the grand scenery of the Maine sea-coast with which the artist's portfolio is rich. It is a view of the Camden mountains sketches from the Graves, a jagged ledge far out in the bay, which is accessible in only the smoothest water."

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Locator map: Blynman Canal and the Cut
Based on 1851 Walling map.
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Gloucester Outer Harbor served as a staging area for deep draft or heavily laden vessels waiting to come into the wharves in the shallow Old Harbor at high tide, or waiting to discharge cargo into smaller vessels. While Lane's paintings typically show one or two vessels in the harbor, works by other artists from the period, as well as contemporary descriptions, demonstrate that the harbor was usually crowded with vessels, especially in bad weather. The Outer Harbor could accommodate as many as three hundred vessels when they needed to shelter during a storm. 

There were two deep spots where they could wait, the "Deep Hole" between Ten Pound Island and the Fort; and the "Pancake Grounds" between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. The "Pancake Grounds" also served as a quarantine area for ships arriving from foreign ports. "Deep Hole" was named for the (relatively) deep water between Rocky Neck and Fort Point to the Outer Harbor. Deeply loaded vessels had to anchor there for “lightering” (partial unloading by boats called “lighters”) prior to final unloading at wharfside. "Deep Hole" was 20–25 feet deep at low tide, when Harbor Cove was only 1–6 feet deep with bare ground around some wharves. "Deep Hole" is where you see ships anchored in Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), View of Gloucester, Mass., 1859 (not published), Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271), and Gloucester Harbor, 1857 (not published) (which is coming to anchor).

The term "Deep Hole" is apparently a post-Bellum term. Prior to that, it was known as "The Stream" and, as later, served as anchorage where deeply loaded vessels could be lightered prior to docking in Harbor Cove. Alfred Mansfield Brooks in his book Gloucester Recollected uses this term on page 53. After the Civil War, merchant shipping in Gloucester was dominated by salt ships and later coal carriers, bringing a whole new culture to the harbor, and with it new names for old places.

photo (historical)
Outer Harbor, Gloucester
John Heywood
c. late 1860s
John Heywood Photo for Hervey Friend
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (2013.068)

Schooners anchored on the Pancake Ground, taken from from Wonson's Cove, easterly side of the Rocky Neck causeway. Eastern Point Fort and garrison in background to far left. 

Also filed under: Eastern Point »

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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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map
1854 U.S. Coast Survey, Gloucester Harbor, Sketch
A. D. Bache, Superintendent, Preliminary Chart of Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts. (Washington, D.C.: Survey of the Coast of the United States, 1854.)
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Views: No. 956 Outer Harbor from Fort Defiance
Hervey Friend
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View from Civil War fort on Eastern Point.

Also filed under: Eastern Point »   //  Historic Photographs »

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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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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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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser Shipping Journal 6.20.1861
6.20.1861
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Notice in the Cape Ann Advertiser announcing arrival of ships into the port of Gloucester, with details of their cargo.

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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publication
1864 Gloucester Telegraph 9.21.1864
9.21.1864
Newspaper

"Lane's studio seldom presents so many attractions to visitors as at the present time. With unwonted rapidity his easel has turned off pictures in answer to the numerous orders which have poured in from all quarters." 

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map
1877 Gloucester Harbor Coastal Survey Map
1877
Electrotype impression
Collection of Erik Ronnberg
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photo (historical)
Fort at Stage Fort Park
J. J. Haws
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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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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artwork
Untitled (Ships Anchored in Gloucester Harbor)
D. Jerome Elwell
1892
Watercolor on paper
8 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Rev. and Mrs. A. A. Madsen, 1950
Accession # 1468

Fishing schooners in Gloucester's outer harbor, probably riding out bad weather.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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The Stage, as it was known in Lane’s time, now Stage Fort Park, rises from the western shore of the Outer Harbor, just south and west of the Cut and the Blynman Bridge as you leave Gloucester. This was the first settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1623 where fourteen men of the Dorchester Company landed and tried in vain to settle and survive through a combination of fishing and farming. They were successful at neither, and in 1626 they moved on and founded Salem. 

During the Revolution the Gloucester patriots built a fort on the north side of Half Moon Beach to defend against British invaders which was never needed. The fort was restored for the War of 1812 and again for the Civil War, but again saw no action. 

During Lane’s lifetime this area was the Hough farm. Townspeople were generally given free run of the place for strolling and picnics overlooking the harbor. The enormous rounded boulders and ledge outcroppings rose dramatically from the fields above the harbor without the tree cover that partially obscures them today.

Lane did numerous paintings of this area, including many views looking westward from the vantage point onboard a boat in the harbor. In Stage Rocks and the Western Shore of Gloucester Outer Harbor, 1857 (inv. 8) the Stage Rocks frame the west side of Gloucester Harbor and provided a peaceful and bucolic counterpoint to the intense activity of the city waterfront only a mile away across the harbor. Lane also painted the Stage Rocks from the beach just to the north near the Cut and Field Beach, which is on the southern side of the Stage Rocks facing out the harbor entrance to the sea.

map
Plan of Stage Fort Park showing location of Steepbank
1898
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
1543 plan 0141_0002

The third of the three plans has the references on it. "Plan showing the taking of land, flats and beach for Stage Fort Park…1898..."

Includes a reference to the home of Mary Turnbull which is Steepbank.

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Steepbank »

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 239 Gloucester from Steep Bank
Frank Rowell, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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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
Cape Ann Atlas
1899

page 13

From salemdeeds.com

Also filed under: Maps »

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 6 Half Moon Beach
John S.E. Rogers and Procter Brothers, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 71 Gloucester from Stage Fort
Procter Brothers, Publishers
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 89 The Town from Stage Fort
John S.E. Rogers, Publisher
c.1890
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"In the foreground is a clear sheet of water which washes upon the beach beyond. The Pavilion is quite prominent, while upon the rising background can be seen the steeples of the several churchs, the tower of the first Town House, and the Collins School House."

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photo (historical)
Field Beach and Rocks
John Heywood
1869
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stage Fort from Hough's Farm, showing a panorama of the harbor from Pavilion Beach to Fort Point and Rocky Neck.

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photo (historical)
Fort at Stage Fort Park
J. J. Haws
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
Plan of Stage Fort Park showing location of Cressy and Bray property
1898
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds. 1543 plan 0141_0003
salemdeeds.com

The third of the three plans has the references on it “Plan showing the taking of land, flats and beach for Stage Fort Park…1898…"

Includes a reference to the home of “Mary Turnbull” which is Steepbank.

Also filed under: Maps »

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map
Plan of Stage Fort Park showing Steepbank
1898
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
1543 plan 0141_0001

The third of the three plans has the references on it “Plan showing the taking of land, flats and beach for Stage Fort Park…1898…”

Includes a reference to the home of Mary Turnbull which is Steepbank.

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photo (historical)
Stage Fort from Shore
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive

Also filed under: Western Shore »

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map
Stage Rocks, Gloucester, Mass.
Ernest W. Bowditch
1885
29 x 25 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (#089)

Ernest Bowditch was a landscape gardener. This map shows some of the various names of landmarks around Stage Rocks.

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The yawl boat was a ninteenth-century development of earlier ships' boats built for naval and merchant use. Usually twenty feet long or less, they had round bottoms and square sterns; many had raking stem profiles. Yawl boats built for fishing tended to have greater beam than those built for vessels in the coastal trades. In the hand-line fisheries, where the crew fished from the schooner's rails, a single yawl boat was hung from the stern davits as a life boat or for use in port. Their possible use as lifeboats required greater breadth to provide room for the whole crew. In port, they carried crew, provisions, and gear between schooner and shore. (1)

Lane's most dramatic depictions of fishing schooners' yawl-boats are found in his paintings Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 109) and /entry:311. Their hull forms follow closely that of Chapelle's lines drawing. (2) Similar examples appear in the foregrounds of Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44), and The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271). A slightly smaller example is having its bottom seams payed with pitch in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23). In Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a grounded yawl boat gives an excellent view of its seating arrangement, while fishing schooners in the left background have yawl boats hung from their stern davits, or floating astern.

One remarkable drawing, Untitled (inv. 219) illustrates both the hull geometry of a yawl boat and Lane's uncanny accuracy in depicting hull form in perspective. No hull construction other than plank seams is shown, leaving pure hull form to be explored, leading in turn to unanswered questions concerning Lane's training to achieve such understanding of naval architecture.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 222–23.

2. Ibid., 223.

artwork
Ships in Ice
Fitz Henry Lane
1850s
Oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 19 3/4 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M.and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865 (48.447)

A schooner's yawl lies marooned in the ice-bound harbor in this detail.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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artwork
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1847
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 41 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Samuel H. Mansfield, 1949 (1332.20)

Detail showing yawl boat having its bottom seams payed with pitch.

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Mrs. H. E. Davidson was a close friend of Lane's and the wife of his personal physician in Gloucester. Lane made several paintings from drawings for her, including the famous Dream Painting, 1862 (inv. 74).

Mrs. H. E. Davidson was Sarah M. (Bowker) Chamberlain (1827–80), and the wife of Dr. Herman E. Davidson (1815–90).  She was born as Sally Morse Bowker, daughter of James and Izanna Bowker in Hopkinton, MA, April 29, 1827. (1)  She married John Henry Chamberlain, merchant, in 1847 when she was twenty and he was thirty. (2)  He died the following year in the Fiji Islands.  She and Dr. Herman E. Davidson were married in Boston in 1859 by Mary Mellen’s brother-in-law and Gloucester’s Universalist minister, Rev. W. R. G. Mellen. Herman was forty-four and she was thirty-two. (3)

Mrs. Davidson joined her husband in his Gloucester home, the old Sanders house, now the Sawyer Free Library, and had two daughters, Alice Bowker Davidson, born in 1860 and Edith Bowker Davidson, born in 1862. The Davidsons were relatively wealthy, owning shares of gas, steamboat, and railroad companies, a horse, a chaise, a large house with barn, an acre of land, and two-to-three thousand dollars in "cash assets.”(4)

Fitz H. Lane gave Mrs. Davidson the sketch of his Dream Painting that he made during his sojourn at the Davidson’s after his altercation with his brother-in-law, and she and her husband were left equal portions of Lane’s five-hundred-dollar legacy in his will.  

Mrs. Davidson was ill for several years before her death, during which time she and her husband traveled in Europe and around America seeking a more congenial climate for her. She died of consumption in Washington, D.C. on May 16, 1880, and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (5)

– Stephanie Buck

(1) Massachusetts Vital Records, Births, Hopkinton. US Vital Records.org

(2) Massachusetts Vital Records, Marriages, Hopkinton, Vol. 31, 27.

(3) Massachusetts Vital Records, Marriages, Boston, Vol. 128, 77.

(4) Assessor’s Valuations, Harbor Parish East Ward, 1862-64. Gloucester Archives, CC223.

(5) Gloucester Deaths, Bk. 10, 80.

Marks & Labels

Marks: Inscribed upper left (in black ink): 100D [numbering system used by curator A. M. Brooks upon Samuel H. Mansfield's donation of the drawings to the Cape Ann Museum]

Exhibition History

No known exhibitions.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 21.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, fig. 93, p.135.

Related historical materials

Gloucester Buildings & Businesses
Cape Ann Locales
Vessel Types
People
Citation: "Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 109)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=109 (accessed November 24, 2017).
Record last updated April 19, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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