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inv. 191
Beached Hull
Graphite on paper 1 sheet of paper
14 x 15 in. (35.6 x 38.1 cm)
Inscribed lower left (in pencil on a glued down piece of paper): Fitz H. Lane


This uniquely conceived drawing is the basis for Lane’s Dream Painting, 1862 (inv. 74), but also offers a rare example of his treatment of a large vessel in the drawing stage. The wreck is of a large merchant ship of the same type as shown in Wreck of the Roma, 1846 (inv. 250) – a type described as a large “ocean carrier,” later called a “down easter”.

Comparing the drawing with the finished painting, we find the ship’s hull form little-changed. The stern is more twisted in the former and there are few signs of rigging, such as shrouds, deadeyes, chainplates, and bowsprit details which are clearly depicted in the painting. The painting also shows hull planking in great detail, and clearer, more detailed deck structures. What remains constant is the hull geometry and the setting, minus the states of weather and sea.

Lane’s drawing offers valuable insight to his treatment of large vessels in the drawing state, particularly as he drew them on paper. First and foremost was correct hull form and accurate placement of the most significant details. It is obvious in this case that the geometry of the bow and its decorative carvings, together with the heavy wales (three raised planks running the length of the hull) were critical to this end. The twist in the hull at the stern emphasizes the stress imposed by the grounding, but Lane evidently decided it was unnecessary and omitted this deformity in the painting.

Infrared scanning has made it possible to see Lane’s drawings of vessels on canvas, and this offers important evidence of changes in the process of transferring and modifying this example. That process has already been studied and reported by Newton and Steele, and can be viewed on this web site.

–Erik Ronnberg


Travers Newton and Marcia Steele, “Observation, Imagination, and Technique in Fitz Henry Lane’s Dream Painting” (Terra Foundation for American Art, 2011). This essay can be viewed on Dream Painting, 1862 (inv. 74).


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Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images


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Landscape Types:   Beach »   //   Rocky Shoreline »
Vessel Types:   Bark / Demi-Bark »
Vessel Activites:   Wreck »

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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In the ninteenth century, the term "bark" was applied to a large sailing vessel having three masts, the first two (fore and main) being square-rigged; the third (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged. The reduced square-rig made the vessel easier and more economical to handle, using a smaller crew. (1)

Barks had significant presence in mid-nineteenth-century America, as indicated by Lane’s depictions of them. Hardly any are to be found in his scenes of major ports, but some do appear in his Cape Ann scenes (see The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58), View of Gloucester, 1859 (inv. 91), Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 391), and Bark "Eastern Star" of Boston, 1853 (not published)), also in views of other small ports and of coastal shipping (see Clipper Ship "Southern Cross" in Boston Harbor, 1851 (inv. 253), Merchantmen Off Boston Harbor, 1853 (inv. 267), Approaching Storm, Owl's Head, 1860 (not published), and Bark "Mary" (inv. 629)).

Brigs, and to a lesser extent ships, were the vessels of choice for Gloucester’s foreign trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. They brought cargos from the West Indies, South America, and Europe, anchoring in the deeper parts of the Inner Harbor while lighters off-loaded the goods and landed them at the wharves in Harbor Cove, by then too shallow for the newer, larger merchant vessels coming into use. (2) By mid-century, barks were gradually replacing brigs and ships, while the trade with Surinam was removed to Boston in 1860. (3)

Some bulk cargos still had to be landed in Gloucester, salt for curing fish being the most important. “Salt barks” brought Tortugas salt from the West Indies, and in the 1870s, Italian salt barks began bringing Trapani salt from Sicily. The importation of salt by sailing ships ended with the outbreak of World War I. (4)

The term barkentine, like the bark, pre-dates the nineteenth century, but in the mid- to late 1800s referred to a large vessel of three masts (or more), with only the fore mast square-rigged, the others being fore-and-aft-rigged. In Lane’s time, the term was little known in the United States, while many other names were coined for the rig. One of these early terms was demi-bark, probably from the French demi-barque, which was applied to a very different kind of vessel. (5) Lane’s depictions of these rigs include a lithograph of the steam demi-bark "Antelope" View of Newburyport, (From Salisbury), 1845 (inv. 499) and at least three depictions of Cunard steamships The "Britannia" Entering Boston Harbor, 1848 (inv. 49), Cunard Steamship Entering Boston Harbor (inv. 197), and Cunard Liner "Britannia", 1842 (inv. 259). (6) None of these subjects typify the barkentine rig as applied to sails-only rigs as they developed in the years after Lane’s death.

– Erik Ronnberg (May, 2015)


1. R[ichard] H[enry] Dana, Jr., The Seaman's Friend (Boston; Thomas Groom & Co., 1841. 13th ed., 1873), 97 and Plate IV with captions; and M.H. Parry, et al., Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 43.

2. Alfred Mansfield Brooks, Gloucester Recollected (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1974), 56, note 10; 67, note 7.

3. James R. Pringle, History of the Town and City of Gloucester (1892. Reprint: Gloucester, MA, 1997), 106–08.

4. Raymond McFarland, A History of the New England Fisheries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1911), 95–96; and Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (New York: Walker & Co., 2002), 419–420.

5. Parry, 44, 167. Dana has neither definition nor illustration of this rig.

6. J[ohn] W. Griffiths, “The Japan and China Propeller Antelope," U.S. Nautical Magazine III (October 1855): 11–17. This article includes an impression of Lane’s lithograph on folded tissue.

photo (historical)
Photo of Bark
Engraving in Merchant Vessels of the Unite States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1885)

See fig. XX.

The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene)
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 in.
Newark Museum, N.J., Gift of Mrs. Chant Owen, 1959 (59.87)

Detail of harbor scene.

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 44 Gloucester Harbor
John S. E. Rogers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

This view of Gloucester's Inner Harbor shows three square-rigged vessels in the salt trade at anchor. The one at left is a (full-rigged) ship; the other two are barks. By the nature of their cargos, they were known as "salt ships" and "salt barks" respectively. Due to their draft (too deep to unload at wharfside) they were partially unloaded at anchor by "lighters" before being brought to the wharves for final unloading.

– Erik Ronnberg

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

A bark is square-rigged at her fore and main masts, and differs from a ship in having no top, and carrying only fore-and-aft sails at her mizzenmast. 

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

Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Exhibition History

No known exhibitions.

Published References

Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 125.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, ill. in b/w p. 100 fig. 34, Beached Hull.
Cape Ann 1993: Training the Eye and the Hand: Fitz Hugh Lane and 19th Century Drawing Books, p. 18, fig. 13, Beached Hull.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, fig. 99.

Related historical materials

Vessel Types
Citation: "Beached Hull, 1862 (inv. 191)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed November 25, 2020).
Record last updated May 1, 2020. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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