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Catalog entry

inv. 3
Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach
View of Gloucester from Dolliver's Neck
1857
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
18 1/2 x 32 3/4 in. (47 x 83.2 cm)
No inscription found
On view at the Cape Ann Museum

Commentary

This painting is one of the very few described by Lane. In his correspondence with his friend and patron Joseph Stevens, he writes:

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.

Lane had done a drawing of the scene without the vessel (Field Beach and Fresh Water Cove, 1857 (inv. 110)), but otherwise every detail in the painting can be seen in the drawing, including the Hovey house on the hill, which, to judge by the heavier pencil lines, he has taken pains to get right. Lane’s description is true to the painting and emphasizes how consciously the artist attended to every detail of the light and shade and organized the rocks to enhance the composition.

The vessel, a schooner with a broken foremast and bowsprit, has washed up on the shore in a brisk southerly wind that is chopping up the waves directly onshore and that will make it very difficult to float the boat free when the tide rises. The men on the beach are checking the hull for soundness, perhaps in hopes of salvaging the vessel if it can survive the pounding on the beach. Note the lone pine tree in the distance on Dolliver’s Neck. It was a well-known landmark in the harbor at the time. 

The composition is quite straightforward for Lane: the rocks creating a diagonal from the left, and the vessel on the beach reversing the direction and pointing out to the distant ship off Dolliver’s Neck. The southerly wind is apparent on the waves that are breaking on the beach and in the unsettled clouds in the sky. Lane’s enthusiasm for the painting and its accomplished execution is justified: he has captured a blustery, changeable moment of time in a seemingly spontaneous manner that is very true to time and place.

 – Sam Holdsworth

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Infrared detail of underdrawing in rocks and trees. Lane closely followed the initial underdrawing i... [more]n the painting in these areas. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker, Cleveland Museum of Art
© Cape Ann Museum
Overall infrared image shows how carefully Lane drew the rocks and trees. The boat at left and men a... [more]long the shoreline were not underdrawn, rather simply painted in over the background. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker, Cleveland Museum of Art
© Cape Ann Museum
Viewpoint drawing showing Lane's approximate location when painting this image.
Photo: © Erik Ronnberg

Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

the Artist, Gloucester, Mass.
Joseph L. Stevens & Caroline Foster Stevens, 1857
Helen Stevens Babson, Gloucester, Mass., 1890
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., 1933

Exhibition History

Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Mysteries of Fitz Henry Lane, July 7–September 16, 2007., no. 12, ill., p. 62.
Traveled to: Spanierman Gallery, New York, N.Y., October 4–December 1, 2007.

Published References

The American Neptune, Pictorial Supplement VII: A Selection of Marine Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865. Salem, MA: The American Neptune, 1965., plate XXV, no. 103, as Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Hugh Lane. New York: Praeger, 1971.
Wilmerding, John. Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1988., fig. 8, ill. in b/w, p. 32.
Moses, Michael A. "Mary B. Mellen and Fitz Hugh Lane." Antiques Magazine Vol. CXL, No. 5 (November 1991)., p. 830. ⇒ includes text
Slawek, Tadeusz. Revelations of Gloucester: Charles Olson, Fitz Hugh Lane, and Writing of the Place. New York: Peter Lang, 2003., Il. 1.
Worley, Sharon. "Fitz Hugh Lane and the Legacy of the Codfish Aristocracy." Historical Journal of Massachusetts 32, no. 1 (Winter 2004)., p. 87. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Henry Lane. Gloucester, MA: Cape Ann Historical Association, 2005. Reprint of Fitz Hugh Lane, by John Wilmerding. New York: Praeger, 1971. Includes new information regarding the artist's name., ill. 72, as Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach.
Craig, James. Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2006., fig. 76.
Wilmerding, John. "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen." American Art Review 19, no. 4 (2007)., p. 172.
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries. New York: Spanierman Gallery, 2007., no. 12, p. 62. ⇒ includes text
Wilmderding, John. "The Identities of Mr. Nathaniel Rogers." Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors 97, no. 20 (Winter 2008). Includes excerpts from Fitz Henry Lane and Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, by John Wilmerding. New York: Spanierman Gallery, 2007., p. 54. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach, 1857 (inv. 3)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=3 (accessed October 18, 2017).
Record last updated March 14, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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