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Catalog entry

inv. 45
Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester
Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck
Early 1850s
Oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. (61.3 x 91.8 cm)


Fresh Water Cove, located on the Western Shore of Gloucester Harbor, is closely associated with the early history of Cape Ann and with the Sawyer family. After the Dorchester Company had failed to establish a viable outpost at Gloucester in 1623, members of the fledgling colony moved to nearby Salem, Massachusetts. By the early 1650s, families began venturing back to Cape Ann, settling in various spots across the rugged landscape. Sites were selected if they offered some advantage to the settlers: fertile ground, access to navigable waters, or proximity to pathways and rudimentary roads.   

Fresh Water Cove had several attributes, including a spring that yielded potable water, access to a way that led back towards Salem, and an inlet sheltered from the open ocean by Dolliver’s Neck. Early in the history of Gloucester, a public right-of-way to the water was laid out at Fresh Water Cove, assuring that all would have the right to access Gloucester Harbor from that point.

The Sawyer family was amongst the earliest to settle in Gloucester and one of the first to take up residence at Fresh Water Cove. Samuel Sawyer (1815–1889), who spent his winters in Boston and his summers at the Cove, was one of Fitz Henry Lane’s patrons. He represented the fifth generation of the family to live at Fresh Water Cove in the ancestral home, Brookbank.

In this painting, Lane has shown Fresh Water Cove and Brookbank as seen from Dolliver’s Neck. The painting is invested with a wealth of narrative detail. To the far left, a sturdy wharf can be seen, with a tall slender derrick rising above it. This is where granite, harvested from a quarry upland from the Cove, was loaded aboard sloops like the one shown at the wharf. From there, the stone was transported to Boston and other ports. A second, more substantial derrick can be seen jutting out of the tree line above Sawyer’s Hill. This indicates the location of this quarry—one of the first to be opened up on Cape Ann.  

Brookbank is the yellow gambrel-roofed house with a widow’s walk on the roof. To the right, just visible through the trees, is a barn that belonged to the property, and in the foreground is a boathouse perched above the rocks on stone pilings. Lane included a parade of five other vessels in the painting in addition to the sloop secured to the wharf: a wherry being rowed by a lone man; a small sloop with its sail down being poled by two men (one of whom is wearing a red shirt); a larger sloop, perhaps a pleasure craft, with all its sails set heading away from the artist; a stone sloop with a topmast flying a red pennant; and on the far right, a small schooner just heading into Fresh Water Cove.  

As a whole, the scene is a peaceful yet productive one.

– Martha Oaks

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Viewpoint chart showing Lane's location when making this image

Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Leo Landry, Lynn, Mass.
Harvey F. Additon, Boston, 1946
Maxim Karolik, Newport, R.I., 1946
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1948

Exhibition History

M. Knoedler & Co., New York, New York, Commemorative Exhibition of Karolik Private Collection Paintings by Martin J. Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane, May 3–28, 1954., no. 3.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, The Realist Tradition in American Painting, March 11–April 23, 1961.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Maxim Karolik Memorial Exhibition, 1964.
DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, March 20–April 17, 1966., no. 8.
Traveled to: Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, Maine, April 30–June 6, 1966.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and American Federation of Arts, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, The Boston Tradition, November 25–January 7, 1980., lent by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Traveled to: Whitney Museum of Fine Arts, New York, April 21–June 14, 1981; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, Tex., February 6, 1981; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa., June 26–August 16, 1981.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, The Great Boston Collectors: Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, February 13–June 2, 1985.
New England Merchants National Bank, Boston, Massachusetts, [unknown title], January 30, 1967–January 30, 1968.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, May 15–September 5, 1988., no. 8, ill., p. 33, Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester.
Traveled to: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., October 5–December 31, 1988.
Spanierman Gallery, New York, New York, Painters of Cape Ann, 1840–1940: 100 Years in Gloucester and Rockport, April 13–June 22, 1996.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia, New Worlds from Old: Australian and American Landscape Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, March 7–May 17, 1998.
Traveled to: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, June 2–August 11, 1998; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Hartford, Conn., September 12–December 6, 1998; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., January 9–March 15, 1999.
Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia, Italy, America! Storie di Pittura dal Nuovo Mondo, October 24, 2007–May 4, 2008.

Published References

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815 to 1865. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; published for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1949.
McCormick, Gene E. "Fitz Hugh Lane, Gloucester Artist, 1804–1865." Art Quarterly 15, no. 4 (Winter 1952)., fig. 2, p. 296. ⇒ includes text
Baur, John I.H. Commemorative Exhibition: Paintings by Martin Johnson Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane from the Karolik Collections in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. New York: M. Knoedler & Co., 1954. (exhibition brochure)., no. 3. ⇒ includes text
McLanathan, Richard. Fitz Hugh Lane (Museum of Fine Arts Picture Book Number Eight). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1956; 1972 second ed., pg. 3. ⇒ includes text
American Paintings 1815–1865: One Hundred and Fifty Paintings from the M. and M. Karolik Collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1957.
American Realists: An Exhibition of American Paintings from the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Hamilton, Ontario: Art Gallery of Hamilton, 1961.
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition. Lincoln, MA: De Cordova Museum; in association with Colby College Art Museum, 1966., no. 8, Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Hugh Lane. New York: Praeger, 1971.
Hoffman, Katherine. "The Art of Fitz Hugh Lane." Essex Institute Historical Collections 119 (1983)., p. 30, Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck.
Troyen, Carol, and Pamela S. Tabbaa. The Great Boston Collectors: Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1984.
Wilmerding, John. Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1988., ill. in color, p. 33.
Peters, Lisa N., and Karen Quinn. Painters of Cape Ann 1840–1940: One Hundred Years in Gloucester and Rockport. New York: Spanierman Gallery, 1996.
American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2004., fig. 8, p. 7.
Novak, Barbara. American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience, with a New Preface. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Wilmerding, John. "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen." American Art Review 19, no. 4 (2007)., p. 170, Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck.
Wilmerding, John. Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries. New York: Spanierman Gallery, 2007., fig. 15, p. 30. ⇒ includes text

Related historical materials

Gloucester Buildings & Businesses
Cape Ann Locales
Vessel Types
Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids
Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
Citation: "Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=45 (accessed May 21, 2019).
Record last updated November 16, 2016. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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