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Catalog entry

inv. 131
Owl's Head from the South
1851
Graphite on paper 1 sheet of paper
10 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (26 x 40 cm)
Inscribed across bottom (in pencil): Owl's Head from the South / Aug. 1851 / Taken from steamer's deck while passing / by F.H. Lane

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Viewpoint chart showing Lane's location when making this image
Photo: © Erik Ronnberg/U.S. Coast Survey
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Owl's Head & Light »
Building Types:   Lighthouse »

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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chart
Chart showing Lane's location for drawings made in 1851
Erik Ronnberg/U.S. Coast Survey chart
c. 1875
Chart
U.S. Coast Survey
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Owls Head is a peninsula that extends into West Penobscot Bay south of Rockland. Owls Head Light also marks the point where the Muscle Ridge Channel opens into West Penobscot Bay. (Muscle may have originally been Mussle).

Owls Head Light guides mariners into the port of Rockland and her ravenous lime kilns. Monroe Island, off Owls Head, has been a landmark for navigators from the age of Champlain, and the lee has provided shelter for mariners throughout the ages, "Owls Head Harbor may well have been the most frequented transient anchorage in the entire Penobscot region until well into the 19th century." "Five Hundred sail have been passing Owl's Head in one day," a mariner writes in the 1850s." Among the many legends of Owls Head was the scalping of 2 Indians by colonial forces led by Capt. Joseph Fox in 1757.

– Mark Honey

References:

Bill Caldwell, Lighthouses of Maine (Portland, ME: Gannett Books, 1986).

Roger F. Duncan, Coastal Maine: A Maritime History (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992).

Charles B. McLane, and Carol Evarts McLane, Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast: Penobscot Bay, vol. 1, rev. ed. (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House Publishers; in association with the Island Institute, Rockland, ME),120–22.

William Hutchinson Rowe, The Maritime History of Maine: Three Centuries of Shipbuilding & Seafaring (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1948).

letter
Dorothy Little Stevens to F. H. Lane, Castine, 10.16.1851
Dorothy Little Stevens
1851
Letter
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

Thanks for "View of Owl's Head", a moonlight scene:  "Mr. Lane, Dear Sir, when I expressed to you, during your visit to us, the last summer, my admiration of moonlight scenes, I did not for a moment suppose that I should ever become the possessor of one, and that so beautiful as "The View of Owls Head," which you have so kindly, and in so delicate a manner presented to me, and for which, I now beg you to accept my heartfelt thanks, also, be assured, if your pleasure in giving has been half equal to mine in receiving, you have been amply repaid for your kindness, and I alone, am the debtor. . . ."

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photo (current)
Owl's Head
Sarah Dunlap
2015
Photograph
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photo (current)
Owl's Head
Sarah Dunlap
2015
Photograph
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The Owl's Head Light is situated at the entrance to Rockland Harbor, Maine and overlooks the western Penobscot Bay. The first Owl's Head Light was built in 1825 to guide vessels partaking in the area's growing lime trade. After receiving approval from President John Quincy Adams, a thirty-foot tower was built atop a soaring promontory. In its early years the Owl's Head Light was decrepit. Seven years after its completion, repairs were already being made and a I.W.P Lewis inspection report from 1843 noted that the entire complex was "in a filthy state" and in desperate need of attention. A round brick tower was finally built in 1852 and a new keeper's house followed soon after in 1854. Two years later, in 1856, the current fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed, replacing the original lens. 

This information has been shared with the Lane Project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, www.newenglandlighthouses.net or The Lighthouse Handbook New England.

Related tables: Owl's Head »
letter
Dorothy Little Stevens to F. H. Lane, Castine, 10.16.1851
Dorothy Little Stevens
1851
Letter
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

Thanks for "View of Owl's Head", a moonlight scene:  "Mr. Lane, Dear Sir, when I expressed to you, during your visit to us, the last summer, my admiration of moonlight scenes, I did not for a moment suppose that I should ever become the possessor of one, and that so beautiful as "The View of Owls Head," which you have so kindly, and in so delicate a manner presented to me, and for which, I now beg you to accept my heartfelt thanks, also, be assured, if your pleasure in giving has been half equal to mine in receiving, you have been amply repaid for your kindness, and I alone, am the debtor. . . ."

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photo (historical)
Owl's Head Light
c.1859
Photograph
National Archives
Photography courtesy of http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net
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artwork
Owl's Head Light (Rockland, Maine)
Obpacher Brothers
c.1870
Lithograph
Library of Congress LC-USZ62-39504

Print, possibly a postcard, showing a lighthouse on the cliff above men fishing from the rocky coast at Owl's Head, Maine.

 

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Marks & Labels

Marks: Inscribed upper left (in black ink): 99 [numbering system used by curator A. M. Brooks upon Samuel H. Mansfield's donation of the drawings to the Cape Ann Museum]

Exhibition History

1974 Farnsworth Art Museum: John Wilmerding, Rockland, Maine, Fitz Hugh Lane 1804-1805, no. 10, lent by the Cape Ann Historical Association.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 50.
Farnsworth 1974: Fitz Hugh Lane 1804-1865, no. 10.
Wilmerding 1994: The Artist's Mount Desert: American Painters on the Maine Coast, p.50. ⇒ includes text
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, fig. 91.

Related historical materials

Maine Locales & Buildings
Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids
Citation: "Owl's Head from the South, 1851 (inv. 131)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=131 (accessed November 25, 2020).
Record last updated January 11, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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