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Catalog entry

inv. 243
The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor
c.1848–49
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in. (40 x 59.1 cm)
No inscription found

Commentary

This painting is undated, but the image—if not the painting itself—predates 1853. This assessment is based on the identifiable buildings on the Boston skyline as seen from Governors Island (a viewing point favored by Lane). The painting quite possibly dates to the mid-1840s, given the treatment of sky and water, as well as the vessels and their conservative designs.

The large warship in the center cannot be identified as the frigate “Constitution,” as the traditional title of the painting suggests. The vessel depicted has smaller armament (twelve gun ports at gun-deck level versus sixteen for “Constitution”). This vessel was most likely rated a 32-gun frigate or (less likely) a large sloop of war; “Constitution” was rated a 44-gun frigate. The spar deck with its solid bulwarks (and almost completely erased gun ports) support the 32-gun frigate rating.

From the carvings and profile of the bow, and the quarter galleries at the stern, it is probable that this vessel was a product of shipbuilding programs dating between the War of 1812 and the early 1840s. Changes to the vessel’s profile were likely in those years but would not have been profound.

From left to right, the types of vessels depicted are: a New England boat (square-stern version), a sloop, two merchant brigs, a yawl boat (foreground), the frigate described above, a topsail schooner, and the stern of a pinky. All of the rigs and hull forms depicted are conservative in design for the attributed period.

– Erik Ronnberg

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Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »
Vessel Types:   Brig »   //   Chebacco Boat / Pinky »   //   Naval Vessel »   //   New England Boat »   //   Schooner »   //   Sloop »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Massachusetts Locales:   Boston / Boston Harbor »
Activities of People:   Rowing »
Objects:   Anchor »

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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artwork
The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1848–49
Oil on canvas
15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tenn., Museum Purchase (1968.4)

Detail of navel vessel.

Image: Hunter Museum of Art
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Boston Locales, Businesses, & Buildings: Boston Harbor

During the years after the war of 1812 and before the Civil War, the port of Boston was a center of American deep-water shipping. Trading with China, India, and the West Indies, which had fueled maritime growth in the early years of the century gave way to re-exporting these goods and foreign trade based on the shoe and textile trades. Although second to New York in terms of shipping tonnage, many of New York's shipbuilders and merchants were Boston based. In addition, ship building continued in Boston. Also, the coastal trade (the domestic trade up and down the coast) was still the most efficient way to transport goods and passengers, and accounts for much of the tonnage and shipping traffic.

Although dwarfed by New York, Boston was an active port in the 1840s and 1850s. Its registered tonnage rose from 149,186 in 1840 to 270,510 in 1850. The harbor was a crowded place. For example, on September 18, 1850, 32 ships, 49 barks, 47 brigs, and 52 schooners were reported at Boston.(1)

In 1849, foreign entries at Boston included 215 ships, 305 barks, 908 brigs, and 52 schooners. Coastwise arrivals included 193 ships, 488 barks, 1087 brigs, 4287 schooners, 89 sloops, and 65 schooners.(2)

(1) W.H. Bunting, p.8.

(2) Ibid.

For more information:

Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860

W.H. Bunting, Portrait of a Port, Boston 1852-1914 Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1971.

artwork
View of the City of Boston from Dorchester Heights
Robert Havhell, Jr.
1841
Boston Atheneum
[+]
artwork
Vue du Port de Boston
Garneray del.; Himely sculp.
14 1/2 x 18 in.
Boston Public Library
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artwork
Boston Harbor from Constitution Wharf
Robert Salmon
1833
Oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 41 in.
United States Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Md.
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publication
1848 street plan of Boston showing location of Tremont Temple
S. N. Dickinson
1848
Printed map inside Boston Almanac
Published by B. B. Mussey & Co. and Thomas Groom, Boston
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (R910.45 B65 1848)

Map at front of almanac with Tremont Temple highlighted.

Also filed under: Boston City Views »   //  Maps »   //  Tremont Temple »

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publication
Boston Harbor Signal Book
John T. Smith
Boston: William White, 1857.
Harvard Depository: Widener (NAV 578.57)

For digitized version, click here.

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artwork
"Britannia" in the Ice
A. de Vaudricourt
Tinted lithograph with color by Bouvé & Sharp, drawn on stone by A. de Vaudricourt from a sketch by John C. King
17 1/4 x 24 7/8 in.
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.
Image: American Antiquarian Society
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artwork
Simpson's Patent Drydock
M. M. Tidd
c.1860
Tinted lithograph with hand coloring
13 7/8 x 22 3/8 in.
Boston Athenaeum

From Sally Pierce and Catharina Slautterback, Boston Lithography, 1825–1880: The Boston Atheneaum Collection (BostonAthenaeum1991): "Tidd drew this print when he was a consulting engineer for Simpson's. He has depicted the clipper ship 'Southern Cross' in the dry dock. Built in 1851, she was known for having sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong in the record breaking time of thirty-two days. The Bethlehem Ship Building Company eventually took over this location and operated a dry dock there until the mid 1940s."

Image: Boston Athenaeum
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illustration
The "Britannia" steamship leaving Boston, U.S.
Wood engraving in The Illustrated London News (October 23, 1847) p.272
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2004671768
Image: Illustrated London News
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chart
U.S. Coast Pilot chart
1893
U.S. Coast Pilot, Atlantic Coast Part 3.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Detail of Coast Pilot chart showing Point Allerton.

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artwork
View of Boston Harbor
John White Allen Scott
oil on panel
1853
Bostonian Society (1884.0209)

Also filed under: Scott, John W. A. »

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artwork
View of Boston in 1848 from East Boston
C.W. Burton, lithographer, Edwin Whitefield, artist
Boston : Published by Whitefield and Smith, 1848.
1 print : lithograph, tinted ; image 50.3 x 111.9 cm., 68.7 x 121.2 cm.
View of the city of Boston from East Boston showing Boston Harbor. The wharves of East Boston can be seen in the foreground.
Number nine of thirty-eight city views published in "Whitefield's Original Views of (North) American Cities (Scenery).
On stone by Charles W. Burton after a drawing by Edwin Whitefield.
Inscribed in brown ink lower right corner of sheet: "Boston Athenaeum from Josiah Quincy. September 28, 1848."
Local Notes:#1848.1.
Image: Boston Athenaeum
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Boston Locales, Businesses, & Buildings: State House

The "new" State House is located across from the Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill, and serves as the Massachusetts state capital. The land was once owned by Massachusetts's first elected governor, John Hancock. Charles Bullfinch was the architect of the building, which was completed in 1798.

The dome was originally roofed with wood shingles, which leaked. In 1802 it was covered with copper by Paul Revere's Revere Copper Company. The dome was first painted gray and then light yellow before being gilded with gold leaf in 1874.

photo (historical)
Massachusetts State House c. 1860
c 1860s
Photograph
Courtesy of the Bostonian Society
Image: Courtesy of the Bostonian Society
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artwork
Old State House in Flames
Robert Salmon
The Bostonian Society (1883.0107)
lithograph
1832
"Salmon pinxt" at lower left; "Pendleton, Boston" at lower right
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View of Boston
c.1848
Lithograph
Published by N. Currier, New York
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2002698122
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The frigate "Constitution," 44 guns, was built at Boston in 1797, George Claighorne, builder. Rebuilt in 1833 with the notorious figure of Andrew Jackson fitted in 1834. Despite its mutilation, the figure was repaired and remained on the ship until 1847–48, when it was replaced by a new figure of Jackson. This second figure remained on the vessel until 1875, when it was replaced by a billethead. In subsequent restorations new billetheads were installed.

Although a figurehead is barely visible in Lane's lithograph A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew, 1837 (inv. 468), when the correct number of gunports at gun deck level (sixteen), together with the Boston setting, Lane's depiction of this vessel as "Constitution" appears very certain.

The same cannot be said for The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor, c.1848–49 (inv. 243), wherein the warship at center has only twelve gunports at gun deck level, reducing her rating to a sloop-of war. Because the gun deck has a spar deck above it, which can mount a limited number of guns forward and aft, this vessel could be rated as a first-class sloop of war. Her overall appearance is that of a warship rating smaller than a frigate.

– Erik Ronnberg

Related tables: Ship (Full-Rigged) »
artwork
The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1848–49
Oil on canvas
15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tenn., Museum Purchase (1968.4)

Detail of navel vessel.

Image: Hunter Museum of Art
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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 (not published)). (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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artwork
The "Antelope," Russell & Co. Clipper Ship [sic] in Boston Harbor
c.1843
Lithograph
Forbes House Museum, Milton, Mass.

Lane's depiction of "Antelope" was based on an earlier painting, probably contemporary to the vessel and very possibly made by a Chinese artist. This painting was reproduced in Old Shipping Days in Boston (State Street Trust, 1918), p. 17, and in Robinson and Dow, The Sailing Ships of New England (first series, Salem, 1922), plate 13.

– Erik Ronnberg

Image: Forbes House Museum

Also filed under: "Antelope" (Brig) »

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The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats" and discussed elsewhere), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies."

These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.

CHEBACCO BOATS AND PINKIES

In the Chebacco Parish of the Ipswich Colony, a larger version of the colonial shallop evolved to a heavily ­built two-­masted boat with either a sharp or square stern. This development included partial decking at bow and stern, the former as a cuddy which was fitted with crude bunks and a brick fireplace for cooking. Further development provided midship decking over a fish hold with standing rooms fore and aft for fishing. At this stage, low bulwarks replaced simple rails and in the double­-enders were extended aft beyond the rudderhead to form a “pinched,” or “pink“ stern. Some time in the second half of the eighteenth century, boats with these characteristics became known as Chebacco Boats. The square­stern versions were called Dogbodies, for reasons now forgotten. (1)

Chebacco Boats became the vessels of choice for Cape Ann fishermen working coastal grounds for cod, mackerel, herring, and groundfish with hook and line or with nets. This did not prevent them from venturing further, particularly in pursuit of migrating schools of mackerel. The “Bashalore,” a corruption of the Bay of Chaleur in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was a favorite destination for Cape Ann Fishermen who fished for mackerel in that region. (2)

Lane undoubtedly saw Chebacco Boats in the years prior to his move to Boston, but if he made drawings or paintings of them in that period, none have come to light. A small lithograph, titled “View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837,” is attributed to him, but the vessels and wharf buildings are too crudely drawn to warrant this undocumented claim. (3) Lane did see and render accurately the Chebacco Boat’s successor the Pinky—which was larger and had a schooner rig (two masts, main sail, fore sail, jib, and main topmast staysail).

Schooners with pink­sterns were recorded early in the 18th century later that there were models and graphic representations of hull form and rig (Ref. 4). By then, the pinky was very similar in hull form to Chebacco Boats, and some Chebacco Boats were converted to pinkies by giving them schooner rigs. A pinky in Lane’s The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30) (mis­dated 1850s, more likely mid­-1840s) is quite possibly an example of such a conversion.

Lane’s depictions of pinkies in Massachusetts waters are numerous and sometimes very informative. Examples in his views of Gloucester Harbor portray them at various angles, from broadside (see Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), and View of the Town of Gloucester, Mass., 1836 (inv. 86)) to stern (see The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), and Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 391)), but few, if any, bow views. His portrayals of pinkies in Boston Harbor and vicinity are more in the foreground and more generous in detail. The earliest of these, from 1845, shows a pinky getting underway in a hurry as the yacht "Northern Light" bears down on her in The Yacht "Northern Light" in Boston Harbor, 1845 (inv. 268). A late harbor view (id ) offers a rare bow view.

Like the Chebacco Boat, the pinky was primarily a fishing vessel, doing much the same kind of fishing in coastal waters, but large enough to venture further offshore to work on the banks in the Gulf of Maine in pursuit of the cod. By the 1820s, pinkies reached their largest size: 50 to 60 feet on deck. Beyond that size called for a different deck arrangement and higher rails, so men could stand on deck and fish from the rails – an arrangement offered by the banks fishing schooner. (5)

What is perhaps Lane’s most detailed and narrative view of a pinky appears in Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344) and dominates the right foreground. Fitted-out for mackerel gill­netting, she has a dory and a wherry in tow, the latter with the net in the stern. The crew is relaxed, enjoying the evening calm as the vessel heads for port. The barrels on deck are filled with freshly caught mackerel, which will be sold as such when landed, most likely at Gloucester. This pinky was probably fishing on Stellwagen Bank or Cape Cod Bay, which were good fishing grounds for mackerel, and close enough to Gloucester to make trips in smaller vessels worthwhile. To judge from his paintings, Lane found only a few pinkies in the parts of the Maine Coast he explored. Only one drawing (Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert, 1852 (inv. 184)) and two widely published paintings (Entrance of Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1855 (inv. 347) and Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (not published)) illustrate this type, and then at a distance. What is apparent is that pinkies in southern Maine did not differ markedly from those on the Massachusetts coast. Had Lane ventured further Down East, he might have found modifications to the type that reflected Canadian influences. (6)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 82­–91; and Howard I. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825­–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 25­–27.

2. G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States, Section V, Vol. I (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1884–87), 275,­ 287, 298­–300, 419­–21, 425–32, 459–63.

3. John J. Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann (Procter Bros., 1860, reprint: Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1972), see lithograph facing p. 474.

4. Goode, 275–77, 280, 294–96.

5. Chapelle, 36–37.

6. Ibid., 45–54.

photo (historical)
Pinky "Mary" at anchor (detail)
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Glass plate negative
3 x 4 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10112
Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Photo of the pinky "Maine" under sail
Albert Cook Church
c.1910
Photograph
Image: New Bedford Whaling Museum
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photo (historical)
Photo of the pinky "Wellfleet of Friendship," Maine in Gloucester Harbor
Walter Gardner
1892
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum
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artwork
Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
1844
Oil on canvas
34 x 45 3/4 in.
Signed and dated lower right: F H Lane, 1844
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy), 1948 (1289.1a)

Detail of pinky.

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model
Chebacco Boat model
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
Model of Chebacco Boat, early nineteenth century with wherry alongside

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Dogbody model
Smithsonian

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Model of the pinky "Essex"
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Model of the pinky "Essex" with dory and wherry alongside
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
[+]
model
Pinky (fishing schooner) "Sailor's Delight"
J. Doane S. Nickerson
Wood, metal, cordage
20" l. x 19" h. x 3 3/4" w. [not to scale]
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Mr. J. Hollis Griffin, 1940 (891)

"Pinkys" were early nineteenth-century schooner-rigged derivations of Chebacco boats. This model is a good example of a traditional “sailor’s model,” or in this case, a sailmaker’s model, Mr. Nickerson having been a sailmaker.

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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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
[+]
illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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Government-owned vessels were mainly concerned with defense of the nation (i.e. the U.S. Navy), the regulation of foreign commerce via enforcement of tariffs and seizure of contraband (i.e. the U.S. Revenue Service), and aids to navigation (i.e. the U.S. Lighthouse Service; coastal life-saving was in the hands of civic organizations).

Naval vessels were classified according to a multitude of duties, which in turn determined hull form and size, propulsion (sail, engine-powered, oars), and numbers and duties of crews.

Revenue service vessels varied from small harbor craft, swift-sailing schooners for coastal and harbor patrols, and large square-rigged (and later engine-powered) ships for off-shore duty. These vessels worked closely with customs houses in seaports with significant foreign commerce.

Related tables: Ship (Full-Rigged) »
artwork
The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1848–49
Oil on canvas
15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tenn., Museum Purchase (1968.4)

Detail of navel vessel.

Image: Hunter Museum of Art
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artwork
The U.S. Frigate "President" Engaging the British Squadron
Fitz Henry Lane
1850
Oil on canvas
28 x 42 in.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Corcoran Collection (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lansdell K. Christie) (2014.136.82)

Detail of naval vessel.

Image: National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection
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U.S. steam frigate "Mississippi," in the Gulf of Mexico, March 1847
1848
Hand-colored lithograph
Published by N. Currier, New York
Library of Congress catalog number 93514426
Image: Library of Congress
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[ top]

The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats"), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies." (discussed elsewhere)

These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.

THE SHALLOP

Like other colonial vessel types, shallops were defined in many ways, including size, construction, and rig. Most commonly, they were open boats with square or sharp sterns, 20 to 30 feet in length, two-masted rigs, and heavy sawn­frame construction which in time became lighter. (1)

The smaller shallops developed into a type called the Hampton Boat early in the nineteenth century, becoming the earliest named regional variant of what is now collectively termed the New England Boat. Other variants were named for their regions of origin: Isles of Shoals Boat, Casco Bay Boat, No Mans Land Boat, to name a few. No regional name for a Cape Ann version has survived, and "boat," or "two­-masted boat" seems to have sufficed. (2)

Gloucester's New England Boats were mostly double-­enders (sharp sterns) ranging in length from 25 to 30 feet, with two masts and two sails (no bowsprit or jib). They were used in the shore fisheries: hand­lining, gill­netting, and gathering or trapping shellfish (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/). (3)

Larger, double­-ended shallops became decked and evolved in Ipswich (the part now called Essex) to become Chebacco Boats. (4) This variant retained the two­-mast, two-­sail rig, but evolved further, acquiring a bowsprit and jib and becoming known as a pinky (see Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), and The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30)). The Chebacco Boat became a distinct type by the mid-eighteenth century giving rise to the pinky in the early ninetennth century; the latter, by the early 1900s. (5)

References:

1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 27–­33; and “Vessel Types of Colonial Massachusetts,” in Seafaring in Colonial Massachusetts (Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980), 13­–15, see figs. 10, 11.

2. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 136­–45.

3. Ibid., 145, upper photo, fourth page of plates.

4. Baker, 82–91.

5. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825­–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 23­–54.

THE NEW ENGLAND BOAT

By the 1840s, the Gloucester version of the New England Boat had evolved into a distinct regional type. Referred to locally as “boats,” the most common version was a double-ender, i.e. having a pointed stern, unlike the less common version having a square stern.

Both variants had two masts, a foresail, a mainsail, but no bowsprit or jib. Lane depicted both in several paintings, beginning in the mid­-1840s (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/), all ranging 25 to 30 feet in length. In View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a double-­ender can be seen on the beach while a square-stern version lies at anchor in the harbor, just to the right of the former. (1)

Lane’s depictions of the double-­enders show lapstrake hull planking in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), and cuddies (short decking) inboard at the ends for shelter and stowage of fishing gear in View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94). The few square-­stern examples (see View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)) suggest carvel (smooth) planking and paint finish, rather than oil and tar. The presence of an example of the latter variant in Boston Harbor, as noted in Boston Harbor, c. 1850 (inv. 48), suggests a broader geographical range for this sub­type. (2)

The primary use of Cape Ann’s “boats” was fishing, making “day trips” to coastal grounds for cod, herring, mackerel, hake, flounder, and lobster, depending on the season. Fishing gear included hooks and lines, gill nets, and various traps made of wood and fish net.

Some boats worked out of Gloucester Harbor, but other communities on Cape Ann had larger fleets, such as Sandy Bay, Pigeon Cove, Folly Cove, Lanesville, Bay View, and Annisquam. Lane’s depictions of these places and their boats are rare to nonexistent. (3)

The double­-ended boat served Lane in marking the passage of time in Gloucester Harbor. In View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), we see new boats setting out to fish, but in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a boat of the same type is depicted in a progressively worn state. In Stage Fort across Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 237), the boat is a stove hulk on a beach, and in the same year, Lane depicted the type’s shattered bottom frame and planking lying on the shore at Norman’s Woe in Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 1).

Regional variants of the New England Boat appear in Lane’s paintings of Maine harbors, including one­ and two­-masted versions, collectively called Hampton Boats (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), Ten Pound Island at Sunset, 1851 (inv. 25), Fishing Party, 1850 (inv. 50), Father's (Steven's) Old Boat, 1851 (inv. 190), and "General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192)). Some distinctive regional types were given names, i.e. Casco Bay Boats ("General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192) may be one), but many local type names, if they were coined, have been lost. (4)

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 141–42.

2. Ibid., 152­–55.

3. Sylvanus Smith, Fisheries of Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA: Press of the Gloucester Times, 1915), 96–­97, 102–05, 110­–13.

4. Chapelle, 152–55.

photo (historical)
Casco Bay boat "Grey Eagle" at head of Lobster Cove, Annisquam
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archives

Variant of the New England boat described by Howard I. Chapelle in American Small Sailing Craft (1951), pp. 152–55.

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model
Colonial Shallop model (broadside)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Colonial Shallop model (stern view)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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Schooners in Lane’s time were, with few exceptions, two-masted vessels carrying a fore-and-aft rig having one or two jibs, a fore staysail, gaff-rigged fore- and main sails, and often fore- and main topsails. One variant was the topsail schooner, which set a square topsail on the fore topmast. The hulls of both types were basically similar, their rigs having been chosen for sailing close to the wind. This was an advantage in the coastal trade, where entering confined ports required sailing into the wind and frequent tacking. The square topsail proved useful on longer coastwise voyages, the topsail providing a steadier motion in offshore swells, reducing wear and tear on canvas from the slatting of the fore-and-aft sails. (1)

Schooners of the types portrayed by Lane varied in size from 70 to 100 feet on deck. Their weight was never determined, and the term “tonnage” was a figure derived from a formula which assigned an approximation of hull volume for purposes of imposing duties (port taxes) on cargoes and other official levies. (2)

Crews of smaller schooners numbered three or four men. Larger schooners might carry four to six if a lengthy voyage was planned. The relative simplicity of the rig made sail handling much easier than on a square-rigged vessel. Schooner captains often owned shares in their vessels, but most schooners were majority-owned by land-based firms or by individuals who had the time and business connections to manage the tasks of acquiring and distributing the goods to be carried. (3)

Many schooners were informally “classified” by the nature of their work or the cargoes they carried, the terminology coined by their owners, agents, and crews—even sometimes by casual bystanders. In Lane’s lifetime, the following terms were commonly used for the schooner types he portrayed:

Coasting schooners: This is the most general term, applied to any merchant schooner carrying cargo from one coastal port to another along the United States coast (see Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (not published), right foreground). (4)

Packet schooners: Like packet sloops, these vessels carried passengers and various higher-value goods to and from specific ports on regular schedules. They were generally better-maintained and finished than schooners carrying bulk cargoes (see The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), center; and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), stern view). (5)

Lumber schooners: Built for the most common specialized trade of Lane’s time, they were fitted with bow ports for loading lumber in their holds (see View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (not published)) and carried large deck loads as well (Stage Rocks and the Western Shore of Gloucester Outer Harbor, 1857 (inv. 8), right). Lumber schooners intended for long coastal trips were often rigged with square topsails on their fore masts (see Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344), left; Maverick House, 1835 (not published); and Lumber Schooner in a Gale (not published)). (6)

Schooners in other specialized trades. Some coasting schooners built for carrying varied cargoes would be used for, or converted to, special trades. This was true in the stone trade where stone schooners (like stone sloops) would be adapted for carrying stone from quarries to a coastal destination. A Lane depiction of a stone schooner is yet to be found. Marsh hay was a priority cargo for gundalows operating around salt marshes, and it is likely that some coasting schooners made a specialty of transporting this necessity for horses to urban ports which relied heavily on horses for transportation needs. Lane depicted at least two examples of hay schooners (see Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 391), left; and Coasting Schooner off Boon Island (not published)), their decks neatly piled high with bales of hay, well secured with rope and tarpaulins.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 258. While three-masted schooners were in use in Lane’s time, none have appeared in his surviving work; and Charles S. Morgan, “New England Coasting Schooners”, The American Neptune 23, no. 1 (DATE): 5–9, from an article which deals mostly with later and larger schooner types.

2. John Lyman, “Register Tonnage and its Measurement”, The American Neptune V, nos. 3–4 (DATE). American tonnage laws in force in Lane’s lifetime are discussed in no. 3, pp. 226–27 and no. 4, p. 322.

3. Ship Registers of the District of Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1789–1875 (Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1944). Vessels whose shipping or fishing voyages included visits to foreign ports were required to register with the Federal Customs agent at their home port. While the vessel’s trade or work was unrecorded, their owners and master were listed, in addition to registry dimensions and place where built. Records kept by the National Archives can be consulted for information on specific voyages and ports visited.

4. Howard I. Chapelle, The National Watercraft Collection (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1960), 40, 42–43.

5. Ibid., 42–43, 73.

6. Ibid., 74–76.

photo (historical)
Coasting schooner "Polly"
Photograph
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Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph

Also filed under: Lumber Industry »

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illustration
Topsail Schooner
In R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

A topsail schooner has no tops at her foremast, and is fore-and-aft rigged at her mainmast. She differs from an hermaphrodite brig in that she is not properly square-rigged at her foremast, having no top, and carrying a fore-and-aft foresail instead of a square foresail and a spencer.

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object
1892 Gloucester Harbor Diorama (detail of marine railway)
Lawrence Jensen, Erik. A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
Detail views: marine railway and hauling cradle for vessel
Wood rails, metal rollers, chain; wood cradle. Scale: ½" = 1' (1:24)
Original diorama components made, 1892; replacements made, 1993.
Cape Ann Museum, from Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, 1925 (2014.071)

A schooner is shown hauled out on a cradle which travels over racks of rollers on a wood and metal track.

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photo (historical)
Lobsterman and dory at Lane's Cove
Photographer unknown
c. 1900
Glass plate negative
Collection of Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Lobstering »

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PDF
view ]
publication
Maine Register for 1855 (Lumber)
George Adams, publisher
"The Maine Register for the Year 1855, embracing State and County Officers, and an abstract of the law and resolves; together with a complete business directory of the state, and a variety of useful information."

Details about Maine's lumber trade in 1855, see pp. 250–52

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Lumber Industry »

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illustration
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
1860
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

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Sloops are one-masted sailing vessels which, in American examples, set fore-and-aft sails but usually no square sails. Thus, staysails, or jibs, are set from the fore stay(s) and a quadrilateral mainsail is set from the mast and spread by a gaff and a boom. The larger sloops would often set a triangular topsail over the main sail. (1)

The sloops depicted by Lane were used in various coastal trades, each with its own requirements, which dictated the sizes and details of their hulls and rigs. Most elegant were the packet sloops, which transported passengers, mail, and higher value goods between specific ports on regular schedules. They usually measured between sixty and seventy-five feet on deck, as dictated by anticipated shipping volume. Finely finished, they usually had stern galleries—a row of windows across the transom with ornamental moldings—and varied color schemes. Examples of packet sloops are in Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14) (center, middle ground) and Study of Ships, 1851 (inv. 141) (foreground), both of which probably made trips between Gloucester and Boston, or Gloucester and Newburyport. (2)

Another specialized sloop of similar size was the stone sloop, used to ship granite blocks from stone-loading piers around Cape Ann to other ports. They were similar in rig to packet sloops, but of heavier construction with greater hold capacity and absence of decoration. Their stout appearance was augmented by simple color schemes, or even tarred topsides, reflecting the wear and strain imposed by their heavy cargos. Lane depicted these vessels in his painting of Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45), with a sloop (at left) preparing to load at wharf-side, and another (at right) sailing out with a cargo. (3)

Sloops of the more work-a-day sort are the most commonly seen examples in Lane’s paintings, most of them appearing in his views of Boston Harbor. Usually deep-loaded and looking weather-worn, they contrast sharply with the packet- and clipper ships which dominate the scene. Sloops of this type are rarely seen in Lane’s paintings of Gloucester Harbor and the Maine coast, although they were certainly needed for short-distance transportation (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), View of Camden Mountains from Penobscot Bay, c.1852 (inv. 207), Sunrise on the Maine Coast, Mount Desert Island, 1856 (not published)). For coastal Maine, lack of railroads for heavier freight and greater distances between ports made the use of schooners with larger carrying capacity a greater necessity. (4)

In Lane’s views of New York Harbor, a regional sloop variant, the Hudson River Sloop, appears in New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46) (bow view, left) and A Calm Sea, c.1860 (inv. 6) (stern view, right). This type had become prominent in the Hudson River packet trade between New York City, Albany, and beyond to points north and west as far as the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal.  Large vessels for their rigs, they were well-finished and well-kept, reflecting pride of ownership and rivalry among their owners and crews. (5)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. A Naval Encyclopaedia (Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1884. Reprint: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1971), 59.  See first definition of "sloop" and definition of "sloop-rigged."

2. Robert Greenhalgh Albion, William A. Baker, and Benjamin Woods Labaree, New England and the Sea (Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1972; reprinted in 1994), 127–28.

3. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 300–02.

4. Ibid., 300.

5. Ibid., 298–300.

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

A sloop has one mast, fore-and-aft rigged.

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publication
Bermudian sloop
1884
A Naval Encyclopaedia:
Dictionary of nautical words and phrases
Special Articles on Naval Art and Science
Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co.

'Mudian, "Mugian, or Bermudian. A boat special to the Bermuda islands, usually decked, with the exception of a hatch; from 2 to 20 tons burden; it is short, of good beam, and great draft of water abaft, the stem and keel forming a curved line. It carries an immense quantity of ballast. Besides a long main- and short jib-boom, it has a long, taperking, raking mast, stepped just over the forefoot, generally unsupported by shrouds or stays; on it a jib-headed mainsail is hoisted to a height of twice, and sometimes three times, the length of the keel. This sail is triangular, stretched at its foot by a long boom. The only other sail is a small foresail or jib. They claim to be the fastest craft in the world for working to windward in smooth water, it being recorded of one that she made five miles dead to windward in the hour during a race; and though they may be laid over until they fill with water, they will not capsize.

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artwork
Bermudian sloop in St. Georges Harbor, Bermuda
Edward James
c. 1864
St. George's Historical Society
Detail of painting of St. George's Harbour, Bermuda, during US Civil War, with a Confederate blockade runner anchored in the foreground.

Also filed under: Puerto Rico »

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object
Scale model of stone sloop "Albert Baldwin"
William Niemi
c.1940
Wood, metal, cordage, cloth, paint.
Scale: ¼ in. = 1ft. (1:48)
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Roland and Martta Blanchet (1997.17.3)

Although built in 1890 and larger than the stone sloops of Lane’s time, the "Albert Baldwin’s" hull form, rig, and loading boom are very similar to those of the 1840s and 1850s.

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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 Whitehall Boat, like the yawl boat, is an early nineteenth-century refinement of an earlier ship's boat type—very likely the gigs of warships. Builders of the earliest examples are believed to have been former navy shipyard employees whose knowledge was put to use building similar boats in their shops on Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. Recognized as a distinct small boat type in the 1830s, by mid-nineteenth century the Whitehall Boat was in use in most American seaports. (1)

Lane depicted Whitehall Boats in a number of his paintings of major ports, including New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46) (right center foreground), which shows a large example, rowed by four men witha single passenger in the stern, illustrating one of its chief uses as a water taxi. These craft were also used by ship chandlers to deliver ship supplies, and most notoriously by "crimps" who used them to deliver drunken seamen to outbound ships needing crews. Not intended for use in open sea, their light yet strong construction, fine lines, and maneuverability made them ideal for in-harbor work. (2)

Other Whitehall boats appear in the foregrounds of Boston and other unidentified major port scenes (see New England Harbor at Sunrise, c.1850 (inv. 27), Brig "Antelope" in Boston Harbor, 1863 (inv. 43), The "Britannia" Entering Boston Harbor, 1848 (inv. 49), Boston Harbor, Sunset, 1850–55 (inv. 242), The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor, c.1848–49 (inv. 243), and Clipper Ship "Southern Cross" in Boston Harbor, 1851 (inv. 253)).

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 195–96.

2. Ibid., 196–99.

artwork
New York Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
c.1855
Oil on canvas
36 x 60 1/4 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–65 (48.446)

Detail of Whitehall boat.

Image: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Also filed under: New York Harbor »

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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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Exhibition History

2004 Frist Center for the Visual Arts: Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee, Spirit of a Nation: Highlights from the Hunter Museum of Art.
2007 Guggenheim: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, as The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor.

Published References

Wilmerding 1971a: Fitz Hugh Lane, p. 180.
Henning 1985: A Catalogue of the American Collection: Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, ill., p. 60.
Hodgins 1989: Adventures in American Literature.
Hodgins 1994: Adventures in American Literature.
Keohane 2000: Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition, cover.
Davidson 2007: Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation.
Creative Discovery Museum 2011: Stop Motion Project.
Citation: "The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor, c.1848–49 (inv. 243)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=243 (accessed March 27, 2017).
Record last updated January 28, 2016. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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