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Catalog entry

inv. 133
Northeast View of Owl's Head
1851
Graphite on paper 1 sheet of paper
10 1/4 x 16 in. (26 x 40.6 cm)
Inscribed lower center (in pencil): North East View of Owl's Head / Aug. 1851 / -Taken from steamer's deck in passing / by F.H. Lane; Inscribed lower right (in pencil): This sketch was painted in moonlight effect and presented to my mother

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 »
Vessel Types:   Brig »
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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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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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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In general, brigs were small to medium size merchant vessels, generally ranging between 80 and 120 feet in hull length. Their hull forms ranged from sharp-ended (for greater speed; see Brig "Antelope" in Boston Harbor, 1863 (inv. 43)) to “kettle-bottom” (a contemporary term for full-ended with wide hull bottom for maximum cargo capacity; see Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44) and Boston Harbor, c.1850 (inv. 48)). The former were widely used in the packet trade (coastwise or transoceanic); the latter were bulk-carriers designed for long passages on regular routes. (1) This rig was favored by Gloucester merchants in the Surinam Trade, which led to vessels so-rigged being referred to by recent historians as Surinam brigs (see Brig "Cadet" in Gloucester Harbor, late 1840s (inv. 13) and Gloucester Harbor, c.1852 (inv. 563)). (2)

Brigs are two-masted square-rigged vessels which fall into three categories:

Full-rigged brigs—simply called brigs—were fully square-rigged on both masts. A sub-type—called a snow—had a trysail mast on the aft side of the lower main mast, on which the spanker, with its gaff and boom, was set. (3)

Brigantines were square-rigged on the fore mast, but set only square topsails on the main mast. This type was rarely seen in America in Lane’s time, but was still used for some naval vessels and European merchant vessels. The term is commonly misapplied to hermaphrodite brigs. (4)

Hermaphrodite brigs—more commonly called half-brigs by American seamen and merchants—were square-rigged only on the fore mast, the main mast being rigged with a spanker and a gaff-topsail. Staysails were often set between the fore and main masts, there being no gaff-rigged sail on the fore mast.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, The National Watercraft Collection (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1960), 64–68.

2. Alfred Mansfield Brooks, Gloucester Recollected: A Familiar History (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1974), 62–74. A candid and witty view of Gloucester’s Surinam Trade, which employed brigs and barks.

3. R[ichard] H[enry] Dana, Jr., The Seaman's Friend (Boston: Thomas Groom & Co., 1841. 13th ed., 1873), 100 and Plate 4 and captions; and M.H. Parry, et al., Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 95.

4. Parry, 95, see Definition 1.

artwork
Brig "Cadet" in Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
late 1840s
Oil on canvas
17 1/4 x 25 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Isabel Babson Lane, 1946 (1147.a)
Photo: Cape Ann Museum

Detail of brig "Cadet."

Also filed under: "Cadet" (Brig) »

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chart
Chart showing the voyage of the brig Cadet
c.1980
Painting on board
72 x 48 in.
Collection of Erik Ronnberg

Chart showing the voyage of the brig Cadet to Surinam and return, March 10–June 11, 1840.

Image: Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: "Cadet" (Brig) »   //  Surinam Trade »

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illustration
Full-rigged Brig
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

Detail of a full-rigged brig is square-rigged at both her masts. 

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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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 red ink): 25 [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. 9, lent by the Cape Ann Historical Association.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 53.
Farnsworth 1974: Fitz Hugh Lane 1804-1865, no. 9.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, ill. in b/w p. 141 fig. 15, Northeast View of Owl's Head.
Wilmerding 1994: The Artist's Mount Desert: American Painters on the Maine Coast, p. 50. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 43, text, p. 57.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, fig. 78.
Citation: "Northeast View of Owl's Head, 1851 (inv. 133)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=133 (accessed November 25, 2020).
Record last updated March 7, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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