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Catalog entry

inv. 25
Ten Pound Island at Sunset
Composition
1851
Oil on panel
9 x 13 in. (22.9 x 33 cm)
15 x 19 in. (frame)
Inscribed verso: Composition, F.H. Lane to J.L. Stevens, Jr. D. Jerome Elwell touched upon, March 13, '91.
On view at the Cape Ann Museum

Commentary

The scene is set in Gloucester Harbor. Two men in a small boat approach Ten Pound Island, one with a boat hook in his hand as if to pick up a mooring. It is just after sunset and a deep twilight is falling. In the shadow of the island there is a small boat with sails down and two men rowing. It’s a moody, rich painting, somewhat uncharacteristic for Lane.

Though the date and Lane’s inscription make it unlikely, it could be argued that Mary Mellen had a hand in this painting. Stylistically, there is an awkwardness to the drawing of the lighthouse and rocks. The paint application is somewhat dense, and the men in the boat are much larger than they should be.

However, in his early years, Lane was not always perfect with the scale of men in small boats. And while the underdrawing is not extensive, its presence under the paint is more typical of Lane. The sky reflecting the sun’s afterglow has subtlety and is quite convincing, whereas in two copies of this work known to have been made by Mellen, the coloring is far more extreme and looks quite artificial. All of this argues for Lane as the author of Ten Pound Island at Sunset.

It is possible that this picture's uncharacteristically casual drawing and more dense paint handling may have influenced some false attributions. Several other small paintings once attributed to Lane have turned out to be by Mellen.

This is another of the small paintings that was given by Lane to J. L. Stevens, his good friend and patron. On the back of the panel is inscribed: “Composition, F.H. Lane to J.L. Stevens, Jr. 1851." A later inscription adds, “D. Jerome Elwell touched upon, March 13, 1891” (or ‘71, unclear). Jerome Elwell was another of Lane’s students along with Mary Mellen. He was much younger and was only associated with Lane for a short period at the end of Lane’s life; he continued as a painter, mostly in European styles. He must have known the Stevenses and “touched upon” this painting, probably to brighten and modernize it. All these changes were removed in a later restoration.

– Sam Holdsworth

[+] See More

Supplementary Images

Verso. Ten Pound Island at Sunset (verso)
Photo: © Cape Ann Museum
Overall infrared image of the painting shows light underdrawing in the island at right, the contour ... [more]of the distant land and the house. The chimney appears to have been shifted to the left in the final painting. Dark areas in the sky are abundant retouching done later by a conservator. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker
© Cape Ann Museum 2015
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »
Seasons / Weather:   Sunset »
Vessel Types:   New England Boat »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Cape Ann Locales:   Ten Pound Island & Light »
Activities of People:   Rowing »
Building Types:   Lighthouse »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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PDF
view ]
publication
Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries
John Wilmerding, Karen Quinn, Marcia Steele et al.
November 15, 2007
Unpublished report
Cape Ann Museum, Spanierman Gallery

Report on Scholars' Gathering in Association with the Exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, organized by Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, in partnership with Spanierman Gallery, and curated by Professor John Wilmerding.

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artwork
Ten Pound Island at Sunset
Mary Blood Mellen
1870s
Oil on canvas
8 x 14 in.
Private collection

The questions about the Ten Pound Island series are further compounded by at least one version that was reworked by Elwell. An inscription on the reverse—presumably in Lane's hand—of his Ten Pound Island at Sunset reads, "Composition, F.H. Lane to J.L. Stevens." Beneath, Elwell wrote: "D. Jerome Elwell touched upon, March 13, '91."

Elwell had overpainted some of Lane's sky with even more intense and hotter cadmium reds and pinks, presumably more in keeping with later Victorian taste. The Mellen copies also tend toward a lighter and paler palette, but her versions are distinguishable ultimately for their softer rendering of rock formations and boat rigging in particular. Seen in isolation, the best of them seem very close to Lane's own hand.

– John Wilmerding

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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 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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The Ten Pound Island light was built on a three-and-a-half acre island at the eastern end of Gloucester Harbor. Built as a conical stone tower, the original 20-foot-tall Ten Pound Island Light was first lit in October, 1821 after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Town of Gloucester ceded 1.7 acres to the U.S. Government for the construction of an inner harbor lighthouse to help mariners navigate the harbor. Ten Pound Island light was a popular subject with artists, including Winslow Homer, who boarded with the lighthouse keeper at Ten Pound Island in the summer of 1880. It is frequently featured in Lane's paintings of Gloucester Harbor.

This information has been shared with the Lane project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, www.newenglandlighthouses.net or in The Lighthouse Handbook New England. This information has also been summarized from Paul St. Germain's book, Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations on Cape Ann.

Related tables: Ten Pound Island »
map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
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artwork
Engraving of the first Ten Pound Island lighthouse
1871
Lithograph
History of Ten Pound Island Light, Gloucester, Mass.
© Jeremy D'Entremont
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photo (historical)
Postcard of Harbor View and Ten Pound Island
Unknown
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

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photo (historical)
Ten Pound Island Lighthouse
Stebbins, N.L. Publisher
1891
Photograph

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with Sailing Directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, N. L. Stebbins, 1891.

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

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photo (historical)
The first Ten Pound Island Lighthouse
c.1860s
Photograph
U.S. Coast Guard
Photography courtesy of : http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net

The photo shows the first lighthouse constructed in 1821.

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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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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
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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
view ]
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
view ]
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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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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PDF
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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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D. Jerome Elwell was born in 1847 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He and his Gloucester-born cousin, Kilby W. Elwell, painted in 1850s and 1860s, many of same landscape subjects as Lane. Towards the end of his life he travelled through Europe and died in 1912 in Naples, Italy.

"He doubtless saw all he could of the artist Fitz H. Lane; but whether he ever received any instruction from Mr. Lane, the writer is not aware. He admired his work, and once said of a marine by Mr. Lane, then owned by James H. Mansfield: "He painted that sky con amore, didn't he?"

—Helen Mansfield, Daniel Jerome Elwell (unpublished document in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum)

artwork
Burnt Ruins of Town House on Dale Avenue
D. Jerome Elwell
1869
Oil on canvas
15 x 24 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Harold and Betty Bell, 1980 (2211)
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artwork
Moonlight View of Gloucester Harbor
Probably by Mary Blood Mellen, or possibly by D. Jerome Elwell
1870s
Oil on canvas
13 x 20 1/4 in.
Shelburne Museum, Vt.

This picture is less clearly an exact copy and more of a variation on the theme. It could be by either Mellen or D. Jerome Elwell, a Gloucester artist of a generation younger than Lane who very much admired the older man's work and consciously began his own career working in Lane's style. In this case there is an obvious hardness of surfaces, an over-meticulousness in the lighting of details, and an obviousness in the stark silhouettes—all atypical for Lane.

Elwell is a more complicated personality, but his copies after Lane are equally challenging. One was his recreation of Lane's 1856 view of Gloucester burned in the 1864 fire. After Lane's death, Elwell also "touched upon" several pictures. Others in the family, like Kilby Elwell, had artistic tastes, and as a boy, Jerome began to make pencil copies after other works.

Much younger than Lane, D. Jerome Elwell completed high school in Gloucester in the last years of Lane's life and shortly after went to Antwerp to study. This travel was made possible by the generosity of Samuel Sawyer, a patron as well of Lane's in the 1860s. During the seventies Elwell traveled around the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, at one time (it was said) sharing a studio with Whistler in Venice. Like Lane before him, he cultivated a taste for twilight and moonlight effects, though Elwell's style tended to be harsher and his colors more metallic.

– John Wilmerding

Also filed under: Mellen, Mary Blood »

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artwork
Untitled (Ships Anchored in Gloucester Harbor)
D. Jerome Elwell
1892
Watercolor on paper
8 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Rev. and Mrs. A. A. Madsen, 1950
Accession # 1468

Fishing schooners in Gloucester's outer harbor, probably riding out bad weather.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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Exhibition History

1974 Farnsworth Art Museum: William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, no. 22.
2007 Cape Ann Museum: Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Mysteries of Fitz Henry Lane, no. 21, ill., p. 72.

Published References

Wilmerding 1971a: Fitz Hugh Lane.
Wilmerding 1974: Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, no. 22.
Moses 1991: "Mary B. Mellen and Fitz Hugh Lane," p. 834. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 34, text, p. 46.
Wilmerding 2007: "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen," p. 175.
Wilmerding 2007a: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, no. 21, p. 72. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2007b: Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2008b: "The Identities of Mr. Nathaniel Rogers." ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Ten Pound Island at Sunset, 1851 (inv. 25)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=25 (accessed July 22, 2017).
Record last updated March 6, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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