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Catalog entry

inv. 260
View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound
Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor; Entrance to Somes Sound; Southwest Harbor, Maine
1852
Oil on canvas
23 3/8 x 35 5/8 in. (59.4 x 90.5 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: F.H. Lane 1852
Private collection

Commentary

Lane’s depictions of lumber brigs (which were actually half-brigs), while not as common as lumber schooners, are particularly informative in two of his paintings. View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (inv. 260) depicts the loading of a lumber brig while anchored in Southwest Harbor, Maine. Lane made the drawing for this scene from on board the sloop Superior, looking from the southern side of the harbor, north to Clarke’s Point.

Somes Sound lies just beyond Clarke’s Point and Greening’s Island lies beyond the right margin. The mountains flanking the sound loom in the background. It is mid-afternoon and the anchored lumber brig is loading the last of the planks brought to it on a log raft. The open bow port, necessary for getting long planks into the hold, will be securely covered and made watertight for the voyage to come. Once the hold is filled, several raft-loads of lumber will be needed for the deck load, which could reach six feet or more in height for a deck-load on a vessel this size. Extra care must be taken to lash the deck cargo down securely with rope and short pieces of lumber lashed vertically along the sides - also horizontally across the top of the deck load - to prevent shifting and loss of cargo.

This scene depicts the late afternoon of a calm summer day on the Maine Coast, which will be followed by cool night air and a heavy morning dew. To prevent the cotton canvas sails from getting soaked and subject to rot, they are allowed to “hang in the gear”-  the staysails partially hoisted and the square sails clewed-up in loose bights. This was done routinely in calm weather to permit ventilation and drying while at anchor or wharfside, and can be seen in many of Lane’s port paintings, wherever he went.

Twilight on the Kennebec, 1849 (inv. 258), one of Lane’s earliest depictions of Maine, is not a coastal scene, but of the lower Kennebec River, a tidal river from its mouth to as far north as  Augusta.  As in View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (inv. 260), the brig’s hold will be loaded through a bow port, the boards being too long to be passed down through the hatch on deck. Once the hold is filled, raft loads of lumber will be brought alongside and carefully stowed on deck. All deck space, rail to rail, from main mast to fore mast, will be carefully stacked with lumber to a height of six feet or more. Due to its exposed location, the deck load must be secured with boards and lashings as described previously, to prevent shifting and loss of cargo in heavy weather.

–Erik A. R. Ronnberg, Jr.

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Related Work in the Catalog

 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Vessel Types:   Brig »   //   Brig (Half) »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Southwest Harbor »
New England Locales:   Maine »

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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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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map
U.S. Coast Survey Chart: South West Harbor and Somes Sound
1872
19 x 28 in.
Survey of the Coast of the United States, Washington, D.C.
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Mount Desert "displays several U-shaped valleys, almost perfectly parallel and trending a bit east of south; Somes Sound, nearly dividing the island in two, is of particular interest because it is a fjord, a valley cut much deeper than sea level by a glacier that extended an unknown distance out to sea. The Valley was later filled by the sea when the meltwater from the wasting ice raised sea level to its present elevation."              

Abraham Somes is alleged to have made seasonal fishing trips to Somes Sound as early as 1755, though he did not begin the process of settlement until 1761. He removed his family through the Head of the Sound in 1762 and erected a sawmill. The Sound and the village bear his name. Through extended family kinships, the Somes family would be connected to the sawmill families of Flye of Union River and the Herrick's of Mount Desert, Sedgwick, and Penobscot.

– Mark Honey

References:

Honey, Mark E, "King Pine, Queen Spruce, Jack Tar," An Intimate History of Lumbering on the Union River, Volumes 1-5.

Kendall, David L, "Glaciers & Granite," A Guide to Maine's Landscape and Geology, Downeast Books, Camden, 1987

chart
CHART G, Penobscot Bay to Machias (detail of Southwest Harbor)
George W. Eldridge
1905
Chart G
Charles G. Hutchinson, Publisher
Private Collection

George W. Eldridge was a Boston-based publisher of charts, pilot books, and tide tables for yachtsmen cruising in the New York–New England region. Detail of the Mount Desert portion of a much larger chart.

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map
U.S. Coast Survey Chart: South West Harbor and Somes Sound
1872
19 x 28 in.
Survey of the Coast of the United States, Washington, D.C.
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artwork
View in Somes Sound
Thomas Cole
1844
pencil, white highlights on blue paper
11 1/8 x 17 in
The Art Museum, Princeton University, gift of Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.
artmuseum.princeton.edu
Image: Princeton University Art Museum
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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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Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor flank Somes Sound of Mount Desert. The harbor is shared by two small villages, Manset, to the south, and Southwest Harbor and Clark Point to the north.The community often sent fishing vessels to the Labrador fleet. The swelling tide of artists, sightseers, philosophers, and pilgrims in the 1830s, '40s, and '50s would inspire such entrepreneurs as Deacon Henry H. Clark of Southwest Harbor, a shipwright, to build hotels to accommodate the travelers. This was a growth industry would sustain the prosperity of the island communities and their small farms in the years after the Civil War.

Southwest Harbor, which included Tremont until 1848, sent six schooners averaging 58 tons with the Labrador fleet in 1839. The smallest of these vessels was the 35 ton "Four Sisters" which could not have exceeded 50 feet. The Labrador fishery was ideal for such a small craft, for it allowed vessels to anchor in safe harbors, unbending their sails, and setting their men adrift in small boats near the shore. This practice would continue into the 1860s. These small vessels were ideal for men with limited capital who could easily afford to build and maintain these small vessels. More often than not, the crew would consist of a father and his sons, or all of the able-bodied men living in a small island community.

The British raided what is now Southwest Harbor in 1775 and attacked the home of John Manchester. The British killed or stole the livestock, took all of the winter provisions, and returned to the westward on board the "Falmouth Packet," but not before they told Mrs. Manchester that she could starve for all they cared. John Bunker, Manchester's brother-in-law, paddled his canoe westward in pursuit of the marauding British. He found them on the Sheepscot River at Wiscasset, and the "Falmouth Packet" at anchor with her crew on shore. He cut the lines in the dark of night, let the schooner drift with the tide, and then made sail, heading back to Mount Desert. The supplies were badly needed, as Downeast Maine was caught in the grip of a British embargo and families were starving. The supplies would carry the settlers through the winter. The British would come calling again on August 8, 1814, aboard the sloop of war "Tenados," and lost seven soldiers in a skirmish off Clark's Point. Capt. Benjamin Spurling of Cranberry Isle, whose grandson would be awarded the Medal of Honor after the Civil War, was in the thick of fighting with a ragtag band of fishermen who could only loosely be called a militia. Capt. Spurling would command a privateer during the war.

– Mark Honey

References:

Duncan, Roger F, "Coastal Maine, A Maritime History," WW Norton & Company, New York, 1992

 O'Leary, Wayne M, "Maine Sea Fisheries," The Rise and Fall of a Native Industry, 1830-1890, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1996.

chart
Chart showing route of Lane's 1852 cruise from Castine to Bar Harbor
Erik Ronnberg/US Coast Survey chart
c. 1875
Chart
U.S. Coast Survey

Chart with key showing the route of an excursion on the sloop "Superior" out of Castine made by William H. Witherle, Lane, Stevens and friends during which Lane made several sketches of Mt. Desert scenery. The trip was chronicled by Witherle in his diary of 1852.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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chart
Entrance to Southwest Harbor
1891
Illustration
"U.S. Coast Pilot, Atlantic Coast, Parts I–II." First edition. Published by Washington GPO, 1891
Folded plate between pp. 62 and 63
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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 at Dusk, c.1852 (inv. 563)). (2)

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

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

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

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

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

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

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

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

4. Parry, 95, see Definition 1.

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

Detail of brig "Cadet."

Also filed under: "Cadet" (Brig) »

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

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

Image: Erik Ronnberg

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

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

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

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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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. (1)

The half-brig was the most common brig type used in the coasting trade and appears often in Lane’s coastal and harbor scenes. The type was further identified by the cargo it carried, if it was conspicuously limited to a specialized trade. Lumber brigs (see Shipping in Down East Waters, 1854 (inv. 212) and View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (inv. 260)) and hay brigs (see Lighthouse at Camden, Maine, 1851 (inv. 320)) were recognizable by their conspicuous deck loads. Whaling brigs were easily distinguished by their whaleboats carried on side davits (see Ships in the Harbor (not published)). (2)

 – Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry, et al., Aaak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 268, 274; and A Naval Encyclopaedia (L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1884. Reprint: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1971), 93, under "Brig-schooner."

2. W.H. Bunting, An Eye for the Coast (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House: 1998), 52–54, 68–69; and W.H. Bunting, A Day's Work, part 1 (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House: 1997), 52.

Related tables: Brig »
photo (historical)
Canadian Brig "Ohio" in East Gloucester
c.1910
Photograph

Canadian brig "Ohio" iced in off Reed & Gamage Wharf, East Gloucester.

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photo (historical)
A half brig being towed to the Bay in New York Harbor
George Stacy
1859–60
Photograph
Johnson, H. and Lightfoot, F.S.: Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs, Dover Publications, Inc., New York
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illustration
Hermaphrodite Brig
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

An hermaphrodite brig is square-rigged at her foremast; but has no top, and only fore-and-aft sails at her main mast.

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artwork
Lumber Brig in High Seas
Fitz Henry Lane
n.d.
Oil on canvas
10 1/8 x 16 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of the Estate of Anne K. Garland, 1990 (2676.00)

Detail of lumber brig.

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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 timber trade played an important role in New England’s economy from Colonial days through the mid-19th century, supplying the vast quantities of lumber which a rapidly growing nation demanded.  While Cape Ann’s woodlands were depleted early on, timber continued to be harvested from northern New England and the Maritime Provinces right up to the Civil War.

With a deep and safe harbor, Gloucester often served as a layover spot where vessels bound from Maine to Boston, New York or Baltimore and heavily laden with lumber could ride out bad weather.  Because of this, Fitz Henry Lane’s paintings of Gloucester Harbor often show a schooner or a brig, loads of lumber clearly visible on their decks, sheltering along the Western Shore.

References:

Honey, Mark E., "King Pine, Queen Spruce, Jack Tar," An Intimate History of Lumbering on the Union River, Volumes 1-5. This source, in its entirety, lays down the foundation of Downeast Maine's unique culture which was built upon pine lumber and timber, the cod fisheries, coasting, shipbuilding, and the interrelationships of family and community.

Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph
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Bangor Log Raft
Advertisement for The Bangor News Company, est. January 31, 1881
Castine Historical Society Collections (2008.02)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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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

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Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Private collection

Exhibition History

1939 Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, Life in America: A Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings Held During the Period of the New York World's Fair, no. 141, Southwest Harbor, Maine.
1988 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 57, ill. in color, 143, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.

Published References

Metropolitan Museum of Art 1939: Life in America: A Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings Held During the Period of the New York World's Fair, p. 104, Southwest Harbor, Maine.
Baur 1947: "Unknown American Painters of the 19th Century," Southwest Harbor, Maine. ⇒ includes text
McCormick 1952: "Fitz Hugh Lane, Gloucester Artist, 1804–1865," pg. 297 (Fig. 6). ⇒ includes text
Smith 1979: More Marine Paintings and Drawings in the Peabody Museum, p. 42.
Wilmerding 1980a: American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875, ills., pl. 10 and fig. 72, p. 80; text, pp. 81, 98, 111, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, ill. in b/w p. 97 cat. 57, ill. in color p.143, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Cape Ann 1993: Training the Eye and the Hand: Fitz Hugh Lane and 19th Century Drawing Books, p. 33, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Wilmerding 1994: The Artist's Mount Desert: American Painters on the Maine Coast, fig. 50, p.57. ⇒ includes text
Novak 1995: Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting, 1825–1875, no. 115, p.235.
Kelly 2004: American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection, fig. 2, p. 118, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, pl. 5, pp. 53, 63, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, pp. 140, 154, 198, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor.
Wilmerding 2007: "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen," p. 175, Entrance to Somes Sound.
Wilmerding 2007a: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, fig. 20, ill., p. 32, Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor. ⇒ includes text

Related historical materials

Maine Locales & Buildings
Vessel Types
Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
Citation: "View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (inv. 260)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=260 (accessed May 29, 2024).
Record last updated October 12, 2023. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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