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Catalog entry

inv. 401
Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement
Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains; Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains from the Bay in front of Some's Settlement; Somes Harbor
1850
Oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (51.1 x 76.5 cm)

Commentary

This painting was made from a drawing View of Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains, from the Bay in Front of Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 177) from Lane’s first summer cruise in Penobscot Bay, in the company of Joseph Stevens and friends in the “General Gates”, a New England boat of the Casco Bay variety. It was near the end of that cruise that the party explored Somes Sound, leaving Lane captivated by Mount Desert Island and its geographic diversity.

Somes Settlement (later Somesville) was a village at the head of Somes Sound, having a small harbor with a narrow entrance marked by Bar Island. Lane’s party camped on the island, later putting him ashore at the settlement to explore and make drawings, including the one for this painting.

This must have been one of Lane's earliest Maine paintings. The composition with dark foreground beach and beached vessels leads the eye out into the placid waters of the sound and up to the magnificent peaks of Mount Desert Island. Both the composition and detailed narrative of the everyday doings in the shallow cove are reminiscent of Lane's great Gloucester Inner Harbor series of 1848-1852. Here there is much less going on and Lane, while still faithful to his narrative instincts, is now more engaged in depicting the high blue sky, the towering hills and the soft midsummer light infusing the scene. It wasn't long before Lane's Maine paintings were far less narrative and fully gave themselves over to spectacular light effects of the Maine summer atmosphere.

The painting follows the drawing closely, including the “General Gates” anchored off Bar Island with the party’s tent set up on the shore nearby. To the left of the island, in the distance, is a topsail schooner derived from a similar schooner in the drawing. There can be little doubt that these vessels were in the drawing to convey a sense of distance and serve the same purpose in the painting.

The vessels depicted in the foreground are typical schooner types then found along the Maine Coast.  At left, a pinky drying sail could still be commonly seen fishing offshore. The topsail schooner at left center is a coastal packet used to carry small-quantity and high-value goods, as well as passengers, to and from smaller ports not visited by steamers. Grounded at right is a coasting schooner used for bulk cargos – lumber, hay, lime, and farm produce among the more common examples. The yawl boat approaching the shore may belong to this schooner; the larger, more elaborate example aground most likely belongs to the packet schooner. 

–Erik Ronnberg, Sam Holdsworth

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Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Viewpoint chart showing Lane's location when making the image
Viewpoint chart showing Lane's location when making the image (detail)
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »
Landscape Types:   Beach »
Vessel Types:   Chebacco Boat / Pinky »   //   New England Boat »   //   Schooner »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Mount Desert & Mt. Desert Rock Light »   //   Somes Sound »
Activities of People:   Rowing »

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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Mount Desert was in the Frenchman's Bay Customs District, and in 1850 the district ranked 4th, at 11.2%, among Maine's 13 customs districts, for its investment in the cod fisheries. The thick, old-growth forest provided ample opportunity for sawmills and the export of pine lumber and timber, as well as shipbuilding, which went hand-in-hand with fishing vessels for the cod fisheries.The coasters of the island found ample freight in the shipment of lumber from the sawmills of the Union River at Ellsworth. The rugged interior of the island limited settlements to the coastal fringe, creating a number of independent, isolated communities. Mount Desert's small fishing and farming communities, in the early 1850s, were set like small diamonds in an incredible crown of natural beauty. These small, isolated villages, clinging to a jagged coastline which stood resolute against the breaking sea, would have reminded artists like Lane of an America untouched by the progress of time. This was New England as it had once been, and there were few places in coastal New England where this claim could still be made.

Mount Desert, as it is colloquially known, has been known by many names throughout its history. The Etchemin called it Pem-etn-ic, "a range of mountains," as seen from the sea, "where the hills rise in a long saw-toothed range," Champlain called the island, notable for its granite mountains, of which one rises 1530 feet , "Isle des Monts Deserts," "barren mountains Island," and Sieur de la Mothe de Cadillac, who was granted a large tract at the head of Frenchman Bay in 1687, called Douaquet. Cadillac is one of a number of Frenchman whose presence in history is denoted by Frenchman's Bay.

At the beginning of recorded history Asticou was an Etchemin Sakom who lived seasonally on Mount Desert with his band. His larger homeland, Ketakamigwa, "the big land on the seacoast," was "an ecologically diverse coastal woodland environment, combining a saltwater archipelago with a 1000 mi.² freshwater hinterland broken by hills, swamps, lakes and ponds, and drained by a few major rivers in numerous smaller streams." The highly mobile Wabenaki families, ethnically identified as Etchemins, inhabited Penobscot Bay, making full use of the abundance of natural resources, including the building of a fish weir, K'chi-siti-mokan'gan, "The Great Fish Weir," between Little and Big Deer Isle, from which Eggemoggin Reach is derived), and shaping the natural environment to suit their needs.

Asticou, or members of his band, were on hand to greet Champlain in 1604, and he was at Manchester Point in 1613 when Father Baird and three Jesuit priests dropped anchor on their way to establish a Catholic mission on the Penobscot River. Asticou invited them to stay, the invitation was accepted, and the mission of St. Sauveur at Fernald Point began to be built. The work had barely begun when the mission was destroyed by Capt. Samuel Argall, an English privateer from Jamestown.

Champlain named Mount Desert but left its sentinel rock, 26 miles off shore, unidentified. The island was given the name of Mount Desert Dry Rock in the 18th century, and shortened somewhat after this. The island served as a navigational aid, not a hazard, for coastal seamen. The US government purchased this pile of rocks from the State of Maine in 1829, there surely must have been a few laughs over this transaction, and the government authorized $5000 to build a light station, which began operation in 1830.

– Mark Honey

References:

Conkling, Philip W, "Islands in Time," A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine, Island Institute, Rockland, and Downeast Books, Camden.

Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy, "Indian Place-Names of the Penobscot Valley and the Maine Coast," University of Maine Studies, 2nd Series, #55, November 1941, reprinted 1960 by the University of Maine Press.  Frank G Speck's "Penobscot Man," University of Pennsylvania Press, 1940.

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

 Prins, Harald E L, and McBride, Bunny, "Asticou's Island Domain: Wabenaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island," 1500-2000, Acadia National Park, Ethnographic Overview and Assessment, Volume 1, repaired under cooperative agreement with The Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, Maine, Northeast Regional Ethnography Program, National Park Service, Boston, Massachusetts, September, 2007.

Rowe, William Hutchinson, "The Maritime History of Maine," Harpswell Press, 1996.

 

 

 

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."

[+]
publication
1859 Gloucester Telegraph 2.9.1859
2.9.1859
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph p. 2, col. 3
Boston Public Library
Accession # G587

"PICTURES. – Two of Lane's finest paintings are on exhibition at the Marine Insurance Reading Room. One is a most spirited representation of a gale on the sea coast. Huge rollers come rumbling towards the rocky foreground where the spray dashes high and the receding wave is thrown up sharp and wedgelike by the great crested breaker under which it is speedily overwhelmed. In the middle distance a bald headland receives the sun's rays which slant through the mist from an opening in the heavy clouds. A close reefed ship leaps proudly over the waves and safely weathers the dangerous point beyond.

The companion-piece is a bay scene in which the setting sun throws a flood of golden light over the placid water. Vessels of different kinds, with sails in light and shadow, enliven the picture. A homely old sloop getting underweigh well sets off the most prominent object - a handsome ship under full canvass, slowly gliding over the ground-swell with a light breeze afloat, while there is hardly enough below to make a cat's paw.

These pictures were painted for the spring exhibition of the National Academy at New York, whither they will go unless stopped by some appreciative purchaser.

In Lane's studio are several gems of art. - Wind against Tide on Georges, a stirring pure marine, and Recollections of Mount Desert, an exquisite bit of landscape, evince a versatility of pencil which he is not generally known to possess.

The demand for a View of Gloucester worth having (as that poor caricature of Tidd's is not) has induced Lane to supply another, which is the third and largest of his series. It is taken from Rocky Neck, like its predecessor. Of course all the modern improvements visible from that point of view are represented with the artist's usual accuracy of drawing. To the first 300 subscribers the print will be offered at the low price of $2.25 per copy. The original painting from which it is lithographed, and several other of his pictures, will be distributed by lot among those who choose to take their copies at $2.75 – a price which the print alone will command before the entire edition is exhausted."

Image: Boston Public Library
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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.

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Northeast Harbor »   //  Somes Sound »

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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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photo (historical)
Mt. Desert Rock
N. L. Stebbins
c.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, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston, Mass.

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PDF
view ]
publication
The Story of Mount Desert Island
Samuel Eliot Morison
1960
Book
Boston: Little Brown and Co.
pp. 75-76

Morison lists the original names of mountains and other features on Mount Desert and the corresponding new names designated as official when Acadia National Park was created.

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine.
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2011588006

1860 map, including census of towns. 

Image: Library of Congress

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Maps »   //  Penobscot Bay »

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine under the direction of H.F. Walling 1860 (Mount Desert or Somesville Business Directory detail)
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
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PDF
view ]
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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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.

[+]
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.
[+]
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
[+]
PDF
view ]
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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Essay to come.

PDF
view ]
letter
Dorothy Little Stevens to F. H. Lane, 2.9.1853
Dorothy Little Stevens
1853
Letter
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
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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 (inv. 401)) 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.
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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
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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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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 (inv. 401), 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 »

[+]
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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Exhibition History

1966 DeCordova Museum: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 24.
1974 Farnsworth Art Museum: William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, no. 20, as Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains from the Bay in front of Some's Settlement.
1988 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 50, ill. in color, 109, as Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement.

Published References

Wilmerding 1966a: Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 24, ill., as Somes Harbor. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1966b: "Fitz Hugh Lane's Paintings Down East," ill., p. 22, as Somes Harbor. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1974: Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, no. 20, as Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1983: A New World: Masterpieces of American Painting, 1760–1910, no. 33, ill. in color pp.82-83, as Somes Harbor.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, p.109, cat. 50 and p.139 fig. 13, as Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement.
Cape Ann 1993: Training the Eye and the Hand: Fitz Hugh Lane and 19th Century Drawing Books, p. 21, as Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement.
Wilmerding 1994: The Artist's Mount Desert: American Painters on the Maine Coast, fig. 44, p. 51, as Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains from the Bay in front of Some's Settlement. ⇒ includes text
Davis 1995: "American Drawing Books and Their Impact on Fitz Hugh Lane," p. 88. ⇒ includes text
Moore 1998: "'This Magic Moonshine': Fitz Hugh Lane and Nathaniel Hawthorne." ⇒ includes text
Kelly 2004: American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection, p. 118.
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 39, text, pp. 53-54, as Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains from the Bay in front of Some's Settlement.
Wilmerding 2007a: Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, fig. 18 (in reverse), p. 31, as Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains from the Bay in front of Some's Settlement. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 401)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=401 (accessed December 16, 2018).
Record last updated December 10, 2018. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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