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Catalog entry

inv. 146
Brace's Rock, Eastern Point
Brace's Rock
1863
Graphite on paper 1 sheet of paper
10 1/2 x 15 in. (26.7 x 38.1 cm)
Inscribed lower center (in pencil): Brace's Rock, Eastern Point / F.H. Lane del. / Aug. 1863; Inscribed lower right (in pencil): Painting made from this part of the sketch for Mrs. H.E. Davidson / Mrs. G.P. Low / Mr. J. Whipple / James Houghton / James Mansfield; inscribed lower right (in pencil): FHL / JLS Jr / CS / HS

The Braces Rock Series

The Brace’s Rock series of paintings is thought to comprise Lane’s last dated oils, painted in the fall and winter of 1863–64, not long before his death in August of 1865. Paintings of unusual peace and harmony, they present a fitting finale to Lane’s evolution as a painter. Each one is as much an ode to the bittersweet recollections of a late summer afternoon as it is a depiction of a familiar Gloucester landmark. Lane accomplished this without abandoning any of his fidelity to accurate depiction of place, season, and time of day.

Numerous writers have noted the symbolism of the decaying hull foundered on the rocks and the ebbing tide as markers of Lane's awareness of his own mortality. The paintings evoke an inescapable feeling of ennui in the preternatural calm of the sea, the limpid humidity of the still atmosphere, and the pink glow of the late afternoon sun off Brace's Rock. Knowing that these are Lane's last paintings, done in failing health in his studio throughout the course of his last winter, the viewer cannot escape the feeling that these paintings were a eulogy to his beloved Gloucester shoreline. Read on »

Commentary

This and Brace's Cove, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 147) are two halves of the same drawing of Brace's Cove; this sheet is the right half of the drawing. Lane often used several sheets of paper in order to sketch and create a long, horizontal composition.

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Supplementary Images

original unretouched image
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Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Landscape Types:   Rocky Shoreline »
Cape Ann Locales:   Brace's Rock / Cove »

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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Brace’s Rock protrudes off the eastern shore of Eastern Point at the mouth of Brace’s Cove, a small and deceptively peaceful cove with a lovely crescent beach set in the otherwise rockbound coast of the eastern arm of Gloucester Harbor, about a mile north of the harbor entrance. Belying the serenity of Lane’s paintings, Brace’s Rock, the cove and the ledge forming its northern arm was one of the worst sailing hazards on the entire New England coast. This shore was the scene of countless shipwrecks and loss of life due to its appearance from the sea as a false entrance to Gloucester Harbor. Infamously known as False Point in the days of sail, lookouts on board ship peering through bad weather would see traces of Gloucester harbor and ships at anchor over the low lying land and Niles Pond that separate Brace's Cove from the harbor. They would guide the vessel around what they thought was the end of Eastern Point into the harbor. A reef of rocks jutting across the entrance to Brace Cove brought innumerable ships to grief in this manner. Nowhere on Cape Ann is the illusion of the wild ocean seemingly tamed by a sheltering bay more tragically real than Brace’s Cove seen on a still summer afternoon as Lane has painted it.

In Lane’s day Brace's Cove was still a wild and untouched area of Cape Ann, part of the privately owned Nile’s Farm, and was unvisited by tourists and unsuited for maritime interests. Lane did his drawings from the coast just north of the cove, not from the beach where most would assume he did the drawing. Brace's Rock looks identical from either vantage point.

photo (current)
Brace's Rock, Brace's Cove, Gloucester
Image: Photo © 2011 Winston Boyer

Also filed under: Site Photographs »

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photo (historical)
Brace's Rock, Eastern Point
From Gloucester Picturesque, published by Charles D. Brown.
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photo (historical)
Schooner wrecked off Brace's Rock
c. 1800
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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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.

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Lane made several paintings for James Haughton from drawings. Between 1844 and 1865, Haughton and Mr. Sawyer ran a dry goods store in Winthrop Square, Boston, as Haughton, Sawyer & Co. They advertised themselves as being Army and Navy Outfitters, offering knapsacks, horse blankets, and uniforms, and as specialists in India Rubber Goods. The shop was totally destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872, along with several thousand dollars worth of art Mr. Sawyer had brought back from Italy.  Mr. Haughton was referred to by one historian (writing about Groton, Eliza Haughton’s home town) as “one of the most charming men I have ever met."

 

Related tables: Sawyer, Samuel »
manuscript
1854 Expense Account 6.6.1854
Samuel Sawyer
6.6.1854
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection exp015

"June 6. 2 Dutch coast scenes & frames. Fremart(?) (One Haughton)"

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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manuscript
1863 Diary Entry 2.4.1863
Samuel Sawyer
2.4.1863
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"February 4. Went to the artists reception this evening. There was a large company. Haven (?) Fields Whipple & Co. We enjoyed the occasion very much. Our invitation came from Mr. Scott, Mr. Bartlett & Lottie also went, Mrs. Haughton did not."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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manuscript
1864 Diary Entry 11.23.1864

"November 23. Cool & pleasant. Went to Gloucester.

Size of Haughton's pictures 2. 18 x 30 & 1. 10 x 15. [Lane?]"

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manuscript
1864 Diary Entry 8.15.1864
Samuel Sawyer
8.15.1864
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"August 15. Mr. & Mrs. H.(Haughton) staid over, went to sail in the morning & to ride in the afternoon. H. ordered 3 paintings of Mr. Lane for $150, 2 size about 18 x 30, & 1 small."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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manuscript
1864 Diary Entry 8.25.1864
Samuel Sawyer
8.25.1864
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"August 25. Called to see Mr. Lane to make a sketch of old Homestead for Haughtons."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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manuscript
1864 Diary Entry 9.21.1864
Samuel Sawyer
9.21.1864
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"Mr. [F.H. Lane - crossed out] Lane came over to draw the outline for picture for Haughton"

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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Mary Letitia (Crymbah) Low (c.1823–89) was born in Ireland.  She married Capt. Gorham Parsons Low (1806–80) around 1845 (although no marriage record has been found) and had three sons, only one of which survived her. A notation on Brace's Rock, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 146) indicates that Lane made a painting of Brace's Cove for Mrs. Low.

Capt. Low was a mariner, master of trade ships travelling the world. He kept a journal of his voyages that was published in 1937 under the title Sea Made Men. (1) Over the years, he was a Gloucester selectman and assessor, and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was also President of the Gloucester and Boston Steamboat Company, Director and President of the Gloucester Marine Insurance Company, a Director of the Sawyer Free Library and Lyceum, Director and President of the Bank of Cape Ann (Cape Ann National Bank), and was on the Board of Trustees of the Cape Ann Savings Bank.

Mrs. Low, according to her obituary, “was a woman of culture and refinement, and very pleasing manners, and was held in universal esteem.” (2) This was certainly true of her husband, who in his will said: “It is my wish and desire that my beloved wife Mary L. Low shall have the entire control and absolute disposal of all the property of all kinds which I shall die possessed, … because I have full faith and perfect confidence [in] the kindness and love which for more than thirty years I have found uniformly to characterize all her intercourse with her family ….” (3)

Until her husband’s death, the Lows lived on the corner of Angle and Washington Streets, neighbors of Addison Gilbert, in a large and imposing house that has since been demolished. Afterwards Mary Low lived in the old Low Homestead at the Green, where she died at the age of sixty-six.

– Stephanie Buck

(1) Cape Ann Museum Journals: Reminiscences of the sea life of Gorham P. Low of Gloucester, Mass., 1872.

(2) Obituary, Cape Ann Advertiser, June 14, 1889.

(3) Massachusetts Probate Records, Low, A-Low, J, 1828-1991 # 45723.

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James Mansfield owned a painting by Lane made from the drawing of Brace's Rock. He was a Gloucester resident, and was part of the fire company. He petitioned police for more town enforcement. (1)

(1) Sarah Dunlap and Stephanie Buck, Fitz Henry Lane: Family and Friends (Gloucester, MAChurch & Mason Publishing; in association with the Cape Ann Historical Museum2007), 9, 103.

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According to the inscription on Brace's Cove, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 147), Mrs. S. G. Rogers of Roxbury ordered a painting from "the entire sketch" by Lane. Brace's Rock, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 146) and Brace's Cove, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 147) were two halves of a single drawing, presumably separated by the time the inscription was written. Also according to that inscription, shortly before his death, Lane had prepared a canvas of 22 x 36 inches for the commission, but never completed the painting.

On another drawing Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor, 1864 (inv. 104) was written: "And from this was taken one of the unfinished pictures for Mrs. S. G. Rogers of Roxbury standing in Lane's studio when he died," which suggests that Mrs. Rogers commissioned two paintings shortly before Lane's death.

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Caroline (Stevens) Foster Stevens (1826-1886) was the wife of Lane's good friend Joseph Stevens Jr. With her husband, she accompanied Lane on sketching expeditions around Gloucester. The back of Steam Bark at Sunset, 1855 (not published) indicates that it was a gift from Lane to Caroline Stevens in 1855. At his death, he left to her "the beautiful wreath of wax flowers (wrought by Mrs. Mary B. Mellen)."

The Gloucester family connections were many. Caroline and her husband were actually second cousins on the Stevens side. On the Foster side, Caroline's cousin, Julia Ann Foster, was married to Joseph Hooper, a friend of Joseph Stevens, Jr. and of Lane.

Caroline and Joseph had five children, one of whom died very young. Their daughter, Helen Stevens Babson, donated Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach, 1857 (inv. 3) to the Cape Ann Museum.

Caroline and Joseph Stevens, Jr. are buried together in Oak Grove Cemetery in Gloucester; Lane is buried next to them.

chart
Stevens Family Tree
Stephanie Buck
2007

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

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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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Joseph Lowe Stevens, Jr. (1823–1908) was Lane's closest friend and traveling companion. He was also executor of Lane's estate, and a tireless promoter of Lane's work. He was a supporter of abolition and animal welfare, and an active member of the Gloucester Lyceum. It was the Stevens family who encouraged Lane to make a print of Castine and who published and promoted it there Castine, from Hospital Island, 1855 (inv. 448). Joseph first worked as a dry goods salesman and in later life “engaged in the wholesale dry-goods and woollen trade on Summer St. Boston, travelling daily to and fro” on the train. (1)

Joseph's father, Dr. Joseph Lowe Stevens, Sr., was born in Andover, Massachusetts, and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He married Dorothy Little of Castine, Maine, where the couple settled, and where Joseph Jr. was born in 1823. In the spring of 1840, at the age of seventeen, Joseph, Jr. left Maine and moved to Gloucester to work in his uncle’s Samuel Stevens' dry goods store and to live with his grandfather, Zachariah Stevens. Seven years later, Joseph, Jr. married his second cousin, Caroline Stevens Foster. The couple eventually had five children, one of whom died very young.

Like most of the educated population of the town, Joseph joined the Gloucester Lyceum shortly after arriving in town; the signature of John J. Piper appears next in the membership book; and the next after him was Fitz Henry Lane. (2) Joseph remained involved with the Gloucester Lyceum and Library for most of his life, acting as director for many years, and was the superintendent at the time it became incorporated as the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library.

Joseph also helped his father work on a history of Castine, and he was sufficiently concerned about the welfare of animals to serve on the boards of three animal-aid societies. He became the secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the New England Humane Education Society, and treasurer of the Band of Mercy. (3) Joseph was committed to more than animal welfare; he involved himself in the Free Soil movement and the slavery debate, to the extent that he left Gloucester for Kansas in 1855 “to see for himself what was going on,” returning about two years later. (4)

Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. first became friends with Lane after the artist had returned from Boston and had set up a studio on Elm Stree. That same year, Joseph invited Lane to accompany him to Castine. It was the first of many such trips to the Maine coast, where Lane sketched and painted and visited with Joseph’s parents.

When Lane fell out with his brother-in-law, Joseph Stevens came to the rescue by purchasing the contested stone house from Lane and evicting the troublesome in-laws. He was also at Lane’s side when he died and was named as one of two executors in Lane’s will. In addition, he inherited two-thirds of the residual property of the estate.

Joseph’s wife Caroline died in 1886, and Joseph left Gloucester nine years later to marry Charlotte M. Todd of Milton. He remained there until his own death. He is buried in Oak Grove cemetery alongside Caroline and their infant son. Lane is also buried in their family plot.

– Stephanie Buck

(1) Joseph L. Stevens Jr., letter written as Superintendent of the Sawyer Free Library, for the 1876 Women’s Time Capsule. Gloucester Archives, CC195 and AS300.

(2) Gloucester Lyceum Records, vol. 1, 1830–1852.

(3) The New England Humane Education Society is not to be confused with the coastal lifesaving institution which was then known as the Massachusetts Humane Society. The Band of Mercy was associated with the Massachusetts SPCA.

(4) F. A. Sharf, "Fitz Hugh Lane: Visits to the Maine Coast, 1848–1855," Essex Institute Historical Collection 98, no. 2 (April 1962): 112.

photo (historical)
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
B. Adams. Front St., Gloucester
December 1876
Carte de visite
Gloucester City Archives.

This carte de visite was included in the Women's Centennial Collection time capsule.

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photo (historical)
Photograph of Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
n.d.
Photograph
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (a02156)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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publication
1850 Gloucester Daily Telegraph 9.11.1850
Stevens, Joseph Jr.
9.11.1850
Newsprint
Gloucester Daily Telegraph
Article by Joseph L. Stevens

"The beauties of this place [Maine] are well known and appreciated among artists. We heard of Bonfield and Williams who had reluctantly left but a short time before. Fishe had spent several weeks there. Champney and Kensett were then in  another part of the island, and we have reason to believe that Church and some  others were in the immediate vicinity–Lane who was with us, made good additions  to his portfolio."

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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
1863 Gloucester Telegraph 10.7.1863
W.E.P. Rogers
10.7.1863
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

"Ignatius Winter v. Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.—This was an action of tort brought by the plaintiff to recover damages for personal injury in ejecting him from his dwelling house, as the plaintiff claimed. Defendant justified his expulsion of the plaintiff on the ground that he expelled him from his own, the defendant's house, using no more force than was reasonably necessary to accomplish this."

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manuscript
1865 Diary Entry 10.22.1865
Samuel Sawyer
10.22.1865
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"Met Mr. Tuckerman the artist walking with Jos. Stevens."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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1867 Cape Ann Advertiser 10.25.1867
Procter Brothers
10.25.1867
Newspaper

Letter to the editor: "Fitz H. Lane's will and gift of the Old Fort painting in the Town Hall, sketched in 1859, from T. Sewell Lancaster and Joseph L. Stevens, executors."

Reply from Selectmen: "Mr. Lane was much esteemed by his townsmen not only for his skill as an artist, but also for his character, as a gentleman of Honor and Integrity."

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PDF
view ]
manuscript
Complete Subscription List and Mailing for "Castine, From Hospital Island," 1855
1855
Handwritten list
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00787-1a-1d)
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letter
David Dennison receipt 1849
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
1849
Printed paper receipt with handwritten entries by Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
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letter
E. D. Knight to Joseph Stevens, Jr., Boston, 8.15.1869
1869
Letter regarding the burning of the packet ship "Boston"
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.

"Dear Sir, Agreeable to your request that I would write something to attach to the picture in your possession of the Burning of the Packet Ship Boston in 1830, your object I suppose more fully to establish the fact that it is really one of the early productions of our fellow townsman and afterward most distinguished artist Fitz H. Lane.

The picture was drawn the same year by Mr. Lane from a sketch I made soon after the disaster aided by one of the passengers S.S. Osgood Esq. afterward a distinguished portrait painter. Mr. Lane had made not reputation of course at this time as an artist. And probably had received no instruction. It afforded me great pleasure to present this picture to you who was so devoted to him, knowing full well tho nothing very great of itself would be highly appreciative [...] as the early work of that [...] particular friend."

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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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PDF
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Gloucester Lyceum Record Book
1849
Handwritten ledger
Sawyer Free Library
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letter
Joseph L. Stevens to Joseph L. Stevens, Jr., 1856
Joseph L. Stevens
1856
Letter
Castine Historical Society, Maine

"[John] says Charles proposes to come down on Saturday—to return on Monday—so that may be so—I think of defering sending the pictures till then—it has been my intention to have sent them tomorrow. [??] went away on Monday last before I had time to have them boxed. Mr. Noyes will see to that. The have been, for a day or two, in Witherle & Co.'s store, where they were much admired—& a little remarkable, among the visitors there yesterday was Mr. King—the son of the Keeper of the Light—who was engaged in catching herring while you was at the Rock. He was very much pleased—thought it as natural as life—as it was to his recollection—having only left there a week since. He observed that he would not have believed Mr. Lane had so much in him. In case Charles does not come on Saturday how shall I direct the box—for I shall send it by express to Boston—I don't remember any thing was said about that. I hope you will come over to Owl's Head, as proposed—if so, you & Lane must come & spend one night at least. Our two teacher boarders came in the boat that took you away—but we can continue to accommodate some way or other. Mary is to leave on Monday next."

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PDF
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letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. to Samuel Mansfield, 10.17.1903
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
1903
Four-page letter
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

"[The painting] is offered you for $150 on as long time and in as many notes at 3% interest as you choose. . . I believe this to be the only important painting of Gloucester Harbor that Lane never duplicated. . . .Returning from a Gloucester visit while I was still under the roof there, father brought a print of Lane's first Gloucester view, bought of the artist at his Tremont Temple studio in Boston. An extra dollar had been paid for coloring it. For a few years it was a home delight.. . .I had been a few years in Gloucester when Lane began to come, for part of the time a while, if I remember rightly. He painted in his brother's house, "up in town" it then was. I recall visits there to see his pictures. But it was long after, that I could claim more than a simple speaking acquaintance. The Stacys were very kind, aiding him as time went on in selling paintings by lot. I invested in a view of Gloucester from Rocky Neck, thus put on sale at the old reading room, irreverently called "Wisdom Hall." And they bought direct of him to some extent, before other residents. Lane was much my senior and yet we gradually drifted together. Our earliest approach to friendship was after his abode began in Elm Street as an occupant of the old Prentiss [sic-corrected Stacy] house, moved there from Pleasant. I was a frequenter of this studio to a considerable extent, yet little compared with my intimacy at the next and last in the new stone house on the hill. Lane's art books and magazines were always at my service and a great inspiration and delight—notably the London Art Journal to which he long subscribed. I have here a little story to tell you. A Castine man came to Gloucester on business that brought the passing of $60 through my hands at 2 1/2 % commission. I bought with the $1.50 thus earned Ruskin's Modern Painters, my first purchase of an artbook. I dare say no other copy was then owned in town. . . .Lane was frequently in Boston, his sales agent being Balch who was at the head of his guild in those days. So in my Boston visits – I was led to Balch's fairly often – the resort of many artists and the depot of their works. Thus through, Lane in various ways I was long in touch with the art world, not only of New England but of New York and Philadelphia. I knew of most picture exhibits and saw many. The coming of the Dusseldorf Gallery to Boston was an event to fix itself in one's memory for all time. What talks of all these things Lane and I had in his studio and by my fireside!

For a long series of years I knew nearly every painting he made. I was with him on several trips to the Maine coast where he did much sketching, and sometimes was was [sic] his chooser of spots and bearer of materials when he sketched in the home neighborhood. Thus there are many paintings whose growth I saw both from brush and pencil. For his physical infirmity prevented his becoming an out-door colorist."

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photo (historical)
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. home in Castine
George E. Collins
1871
Photograph
Maine Historic Preservation Commission (2000.24)
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letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. to Fitz H. Lane, 1.29.1851
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr.
1851
Single sheet, writing both sides
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

"My dear Sir,

I hope you will not attribute the delay in acknowledging the receipt of your splendid, and most unexpected Gift to a want of a due appreciation of it. Many reasons have consipired to prevent my doing it – unnecessary to repeat. But I can no longer defer the expressions of our warmest acknowledgements for a present in itself so valuable, and endeared to us by many associations, as a representation of scenery often admired, and which I have many times wished could be transferred to canvas, although vary far from thinking that wish would ever be gratified. You must premit me, however, to say that the Painting, valuable as it is as a work of Art, and pleased as I may be as the possessor of it, is less appreciated by us than the delicate and very generous manner in which its acceptance has been tendered. My love of Art, to which you do politely allude, I am sensible has only wanted opportunity of indulgence to have amounted to a passion. From my earliest days I have wished for opportunities to visit places, where that desire could be gratified, and my reading has only had the effect of increasing my regrets for the want of them, and of encouraging envy for those more fortunate - I feel, too, under great obligations for the Drawing of the "Siege"(1) – I had no expectations you could have produced anything so good from so rough a copy. I shall have it framed for presentation and future reference. Several gentlemen who have called in to see the painting have expressed a desire to have a drawing from you of our town, similar to yours of Gloucester, which they much admire, and of lithographs, I have no doubts copies enough could be disposed of to remunerate you. That of Homans you are aware is feebly drawn, & still worse printed. I feel desirous myself it should be done, if it suits your wishes. There are several points of view, which you did not see, & to which it will be my pleasure, next summer, to carry you. I know many of our citizens would be gratified to have this done by you. Our house we shall expect to be your home, and if, as you suggested in Gloucester, you should come in your Boat, this place could be made the rendezvous, from whence you could start to any place that convenience & inclination might dictate – . . . Permit me again to tender acknowledgements for the picture. It hangs in our parlor, & I never come in to the house, without looking in to see it, & can never cease to feel grateful for your generosity and politeness. "

 (1) Joseph Stevens was very interested the Revolutionary war event known as the "Penobscot Expedition" or the "Siege of Castine" by the British on July 25, 1779. In 1852 he handwrote an account of it and many articles are in the family's scrapbook at the Wilson Museum in Castine.

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chart
Stevens Family Tree
Stephanie Buck
2007

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

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manuscript
Trask's Rock
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
c. 1855
Personal notebook
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine

Note about historical importance of this Castine landmark: "On Saturday afternoon, August 11, 1855, with my friend the marine artist Fitz. H. Lane of Gloucester" visited Trask's Rock

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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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manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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Marks & Labels

Marks: Inscribed upper left (in red ink): 5 [numbering system used by curator A. M. Brooks upon Samuel H. Mansfield's donation of the drawings to the Cape Ann Museum]

Exhibition History

1980 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875.
2007 Cape Ann Museum: Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Mysteries of Fitz Henry Lane, no. 48, ill., p. 101.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 80.
Wilmerding 1980a: American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875, fig. 114, p. 112, as Brace's Rock.
Moses 1991: "Mary B. Mellen and Fitz Hugh Lane," p. 830. ⇒ includes text
Cape Ann 1993: Training the Eye and the Hand: Fitz Hugh Lane and 19th Century Drawing Books, p. 4, as Brace's Rock, Eastern Point.
Kelly 2004: American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection, fig. 3, p. 93, as Brace's Rock.
National Gallery of Art 2004: American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection, fig. 4, p. 93.
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 100, text, p. 88.
Wilmerding 2007: "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen," pp. 171, 176, as Brace's Rock.
Wilmerding 2007a: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, no. 48, fig. 35, p. 101, text, p. 38. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Brace's Rock, Eastern Point, 1863 (inv. 146)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=146 (accessed June 29, 2017).
Record last updated March 20, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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