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inv. 61
View of Indian Bar Cove, Brooksville, Maine
Oil on canvas
11 1/2 x 18 1/4 in. (29.2 x 46.4 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: F.H. Lane / 1850
Inscribed verso: Painted by F.H. Lane / New Years present / to Doct. Saml. Morrill / from this daughter / Mrs. K.F. Williams / Jany. 1st, 1984.


This most sociable painting is a snapshot of the beginnings of a late afternoon picnic near Brooksville, Maine, that Lane likely participated in on one of his summer visits to the Stevens family, who lived in nearby Castine. The setting has been identified as lying between Indian Bar and Ram Cove, a popular picnic spot on the Bagaduce River, a tidal river that flows into the Penobscot Bay at Castine. The two boats are full of well-dressed couples out for a Sunday social on the shore, though they are probably too colorfully dressed to have just come from church. They are an anomalous sight in a Lane painting with their fine hats and bonnets enlivening the plain little sloops usually manned by working fishermen.

There is a fascinating companion to this painting, Fishing Party, 1850 (inv. 50), showing the identical setting with all sixteen of the same people several hours later. Now the full moon is high in the night sky and the picnickers are gathering around a fire on the shore, fishing from one of the boats and strolling on the moonlit beach. Both these paintings are unusual for Lane in that they are focused on people engaged in a communal social activity, a common subject of engravings and genre paintings of the period but not for Lane. One imagines that Lane participated in this idyllic event and had a wonderful time. He then did these two paintings as a remembrance, whether for himself, the Stevenses, or others at the picnic we don’t know. For a man whose work has a certain formal distance to it in its careful geometry and precise technique, these paintings provide a rare insight into a relaxed and sociable moment a world away from his norm.

– Sam Holdsworth

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Related Work in the Catalog


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Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Landscape Types:   Beach »
Vessel Types:   Sloop »   //   Yacht / Pleasure Craft »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Vessel Activites:   Beached »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Castine »
New England Locales:   Maine »
Animals & People:   Women »
Activities of People:   Pleasure Sailing »   //   Rowing »   //   Tourism / Sightseeing / Picnicking »

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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Brooksville is on the point of land located just across the harbor from Castine, and islands, such as Ram Island (located between Castine and Cape Rosier) would have been easily accessible by boat from Castine.

Indian Bar, on Cape Rosier, was one the routes of the Wabenaki Indians from the Penobscot River to Mount Desert, Deer Isle, or the islands of Penobscot Bay. The Indian Bar provided a short portage into Smith Cove, crossing Cape Rosier to Horseshoe Cove, and from thence to Eggemoggin Reach, from whence one could follow one route to Benjamin River and Salt Pond to Bluehill Harbor, another to Naskeag and Mount Desert, a third to Deer Isle and the outer islands of Penobscot Bay, and a fourth from Billings Cove and Walkers Pond to the Bagaduce River. Coming full circle, one crossed from the Bagaduce to Hatch's or Poverty Cove, above Castine village, to Wadsworth's Cove, and from thence north along the Penobscot. Wadsworth's Cove was the beginning or ending of the Minnewo'kun, "the many directions route."

There isn't much history to relate about Ram Island, other than, as its name suggests, it was used as a sheep pasture, perhaps in connection with the farm at Holbrook Island. Holbrook, or Smart's Island, was occupied prior to the Revolution, and was purchased by Smart's brother-in-law, John Bakeman, and was thus known as Bakeman's Island in 1779. John Bakeman, a shipbuilder and sawmill owner at Goose Falls, Cape Rosier, sold the island to Capt. Jesse Holbrook for £150 in 1783. Capt. Jesse Holbrook died on the island on September 20, 1791 and is buried there with some of his children.

Capt. Jonathan Holbrook, Capt. Jesse's son, sold the island to Capt. Elisha Dyer of Castine in 1801 and removed his family to Northport. The extended Holbrook family would include shipbuilders at Penobscot, Castine, and Islesboro, a fraternity of shipwrights and a pattern of craftsmanship that would define shipbuilding in Hancock County in the nineteenth century. Capt. Holbrook lost his schooner "President," built at Islesboro by his brother-in-law Mighill Parker 1796, to French privateers in the West Indies in 1797, and the schooner "Active" to French privateers, who were interned captured by English privateers in 1800. Benjamin Hook Senior and Abraham Moor, farmers, were living together in an extended household, in 1850, on Holbrook Island, which included Robert Bowden, a mariner. Moor, according to oral history, was expelled from Yale, and spent the remainder of his life as a local eccentric. The Neymans, who also lived on the island, are alleged to be the children of Hook's inamorata Mrs. Ryder.

– Mark Honey


Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, "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. DeLorme's Atlas, Frank G Speck's "Penobscot Man," University Of Pennsylvania Press, 1940, and Eckstorm, among others, provide useful information on Minnewo'kun.

Mark E. Honey, "Before the Mast," vol. IV, articles 7–9, Holbrook Island and the Holbrook family, and in particular, Robert Applebee, "Vessels of the Penobscot Customs District," Stephan Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, which source also has the diaries of Capt. Jonathan Holbrook and the genealogy of the Holbrook family in the Priscilla Jones collection. The "Before the Mass" series can be found in the collections of the Castine Historical Society and the Wilson Museum, both in Castine.

Charles B. McLane, and Carol Evarts McLane, "Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast," Penobscot Bay, vol. 1, rev. ed., (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House; in association with the Island Institute, Rockland, ME, 1982).

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

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"Party boat" is a colloquial term for any kind of small craft adapted or used for taking guests (customarily for hire) on sightseeing trips or fishing for pleasure. (1) The term survives to this day on Cape Ann and other places for vessels engaged in the same activities. (2) In Lane's time, party boating was a calling of opportunity, and a fisherman's boat might be used in season - regularly or occasionally - to take "rusticators" fishing. Likewise, a boat used for its owner's own pleasure might be hired to take sightseers sailing for an afternoon. The latter use is seen in Lane's 1844 view of Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck (see the yawl-rigged sailboat in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14)).

By the early 1850s, summer visitor activity, encouraged by the building of the Pavilion Hotel on Gloucester's waterfront, led to increased pleasure boating activity, if Lane's painting Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) of Pavilion Beach and Sidney Mason's hotel is any indication. (3) Lane's Gloucester Harbor scenes from this decade show a number of pleasure craft suitable for taking passengers for hire (see Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45), Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts, c.1860 (inv. 60), and View of Gloucester from "Brookbank," the Sawyer Homestead, c.1856 (inv. 95)). Small working craft suitable for this purpose are seen in The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) (right foreground), View of Gloucester, 1859 (inv. 91) (foreground), and Watch House Point, 1860 (inv. 292) (right foreground). In View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), we see passengers boarding a small sloop-rigged boat hidden by the rocks at Duncan's Point (left middle ground).

In coastal waters south of Gloucester, a few of Lane's paintings offer pleasure craft as candidates for taking paying passengers. Phantom of Boston, c.1850s (inv. 574) depicts a cruising yawl "Phantom" of Boston, beached with hunting gear unloaded alongside while two of the crew await an approaching party in a rowing boat. The location is unidentified, but a possibility is the barrier beach around the marshes of Lynn, Massachusetts, which were once very popular hunting grounds for migrating waterfowl. A second candidate is a small sloop with a party of four on an evening sail off Halfway Rock in Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344) (far right).

Lane found similar uses of working watercraft in Maine, where the families of a small coastal community would travel by their workboats to a gathering place for a clambake or similar festive outing (see View of Indian Bar Cove, Brooksville, Maine, 1850 (inv. 61)). The artist became a "rusticator" himself when he, Joseph Stevens, and friends explored Mount Desert Island and vicinity in the "General Gates," a sloop-rigged Maine version of a New England Boat (View of Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains, from the Bay in Front of Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 177) and Castine Harbor and Town, 1851 (inv. 272)).

When Lane traveled to New Bedford in 1856 to observe and sketch a regatta held by the New York Yacht Club, he observed and sketched it while on board an unknown vessel near the starting and finishing line, formed by the race committee boat "Emblem" and her yawl-boat.

Close by was a small party boat with observers on board, probably a fishing sloop, given its work-a-day looks. In the ensuing year, Lane painted four detailed views of this race, the party boat appearing in New York Yacht Club Regatta (1), 1856 (inv. 66) (right foreground); New York Yacht Club Regatta (2), 1856 (inv. 270) (right margin); New York Yacht Club Regatta (3), After 1856 (inv. 396) (center); and New York Yacht Club Regatta (4), 1857 (inv. 397) (left foreground). (4)

– Erik Ronnberg


1. M. H. Parry and others, Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners' Museum, 2000), 436.

2. Ibid.

3. Proctor's Able Sheet (a Gloucester newspaper), January 1857: "Gloucester House reopened—refitted—boats always ready to take parties cruising or fishing..." 

4. John Wilmerding, Fitz Henry Lane, 2nd ed. (Cape Ann, MA: Cape Ann Historical Association, 2005), 52–54. Lane's 1852 cruise in the Mount Desert region in the sloop "Superior" was reprinted as an appendix to Wilmerding's essay in Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988), 125–26.

Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
34 x 45 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy),1948 (1289.1a)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., deposited by the Collection of Addison Gilbert Hospital, 1978 (DEP. 201)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

1846 Gloucester Telegraph 8.19.1846
Ad in Gloucester Telegraph


"Persons desirous of enjoying a SAILING or FISHING EXCURSION, are informed that the subscriber will be in readiness with the Boat EUREKA, to attend to all who may favor him with their patronage. JOHN J. FERSON"

1857 Gloucester Advertiser, 9.15.1857, "Gloucester House"
Ad for Gloucester House
Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

See p. 4, column 2.

Image: Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society
View of Gloucester Harbor
Fitz H. Lane
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
27 x 41 in.
Frame: 41 5/8 x 55 3/8 in.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Museum Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund (62.32)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
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Sloops are one-masted sailing vessels which, in American examples, set fore-and-aft sails but usually no square sails. Thus, staysails, or jibs, are set from the fore stay(s) and a quadrilateral mainsail is set from the mast and spread by a gaff and a boom. The larger sloops would often set a triangular topsail over the main sail. (1)

The sloops depicted by Lane were used in various coastal trades, each with its own requirements, which dictated the sizes and details of their hulls and rigs. Most elegant were the packet sloops, which transported passengers, mail, and higher value goods between specific ports on regular schedules. They usually measured between sixty and seventy-five feet on deck, as dictated by anticipated shipping volume. Finely finished, they usually had stern galleries—a row of windows across the transom with ornamental moldings—and varied color schemes. Examples of packet sloops are in Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14) (center, middle ground) and Study of Ships, 1851 (inv. 141) (foreground), both of which probably made trips between Gloucester and Boston, or Gloucester and Newburyport. (2)

Another specialized sloop of similar size was the stone sloop, used to ship granite blocks from stone-loading piers around Cape Ann to other ports. They were similar in rig to packet sloops, but of heavier construction with greater hold capacity and absence of decoration. Their stout appearance was augmented by simple color schemes, or even tarred topsides, reflecting the wear and strain imposed by their heavy cargos. Lane depicted these vessels in his painting of Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45), with a sloop (at left) preparing to load at wharf-side, and another (at right) sailing out with a cargo. (3)

Sloops of the more work-a-day sort are the most commonly seen examples in Lane’s paintings, most of them appearing in his views of Boston Harbor. Usually deep-loaded and looking weather-worn, they contrast sharply with the packet- and clipper ships which dominate the scene. Sloops of this type are rarely seen in Lane’s paintings of Gloucester Harbor and the Maine coast, although they were certainly needed for short-distance transportation (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), View of Camden Mountains from Penobscot Bay, c.1852 (inv. 207), Sunrise on the Maine Coast, Mount Desert Island, 1856 (inv. 295)). For coastal Maine, lack of railroads for heavier freight and greater distances between ports made the use of schooners with larger carrying capacity a greater necessity. (4)

In Lane’s views of New York Harbor, a regional sloop variant, the Hudson River Sloop, appears in New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46) (bow view, left) and A Calm Sea, c.1860 (inv. 6) (stern view, right). This type had become prominent in the Hudson River packet trade between New York City, Albany, and beyond to points north and west as far as the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal.  Large vessels for their rigs, they were well-finished and well-kept, reflecting pride of ownership and rivalry among their owners and crews. (5)

– Erik Ronnberg


1. A Naval Encyclopaedia (Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1884. Reprint: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1971), 59.  See first definition of "sloop" and definition of "sloop-rigged."

2. Robert Greenhalgh Albion, William A. Baker, and Benjamin Woods Labaree, New England and the Sea (Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1972; reprinted in 1994), 127–28.

3. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 300–02.

4. Ibid., 300.

5. Ibid., 298–300.

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

A sloop has one mast, fore-and-aft rigged.

Bermudian sloop
A Naval Encyclopaedia:
Dictionary of nautical words and phrases
Special Articles on Naval Art and Science
Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co.

'Mudian, "Mugian, or Bermudian. A boat special to the Bermuda islands, usually decked, with the exception of a hatch; from 2 to 20 tons burden; it is short, of good beam, and great draft of water abaft, the stem and keel forming a curved line. It carries an immense quantity of ballast. Besides a long main- and short jib-boom, it has a long, taperking, raking mast, stepped just over the forefoot, generally unsupported by shrouds or stays; on it a jib-headed mainsail is hoisted to a height of twice, and sometimes three times, the length of the keel. This sail is triangular, stretched at its foot by a long boom. The only other sail is a small foresail or jib. They claim to be the fastest craft in the world for working to windward in smooth water, it being recorded of one that she made five miles dead to windward in the hour during a race; and though they may be laid over until they fill with water, they will not capsize.

Bermudian sloop in St. Georges Harbor, Bermuda
Edward James
c. 1864
St. George's Historical Society
Detail of painting of St. George's Harbour, Bermuda, during US Civil War, with a Confederate blockade runner anchored in the foreground.

Also filed under: Puerto Rico »

Scale model of stone sloop "Albert Baldwin"
William Niemi
Wood, metal, cordage, cloth, paint.
Scale: ¼ in. = 1ft. (1:48)
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Roland and Martta Blanchet (1997.17.3)

Although built in 1890 and larger than the stone sloops of Lane’s time, the "Albert Baldwin’s" hull form, rig, and loading boom are very similar to those of the 1840s and 1850s.

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 yawl boat was a ninteenth-century development of earlier ships' boats built for naval and merchant use. Usually twenty feet long or less, they had round bottoms and square sterns; many had raking stem profiles. Yawl boats built for fishing tended to have greater beam than those built for vessels in the coastal trades. In the hand-line fisheries, where the crew fished from the schooner's rails, a single yawl boat was hung from the stern davits as a life boat or for use in port. Their possible use as lifeboats required greater breadth to provide room for the whole crew. In port, they carried crew, provisions, and gear between schooner and shore. (1)

Lane's most dramatic depictions of fishing schooners' yawl-boats are found in his paintings Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 109) and /entry:311. Their hull forms follow closely that of Chapelle's lines drawing. (2) Similar examples appear in the foregrounds of Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44), and The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271). A slightly smaller example is having its bottom seams payed with pitch in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23). In Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a grounded yawl boat gives an excellent view of its seating arrangement, while fishing schooners in the left background have yawl boats hung from their stern davits, or floating astern.

One remarkable drawing, Untitled (inv. 219) illustrates both the hull geometry of a yawl boat and Lane's uncanny accuracy in depicting hull form in perspective. No hull construction other than plank seams is shown, leaving pure hull form to be explored, leading in turn to unanswered questions concerning Lane's training to achieve such understanding of naval architecture.

– Erik Ronnberg


1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 222–23.

2. Ibid., 223.

Ships in Ice
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 19 3/4 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M.and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865 (48.447)

A schooner's yawl lies marooned in the ice-bound harbor in this detail.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 41 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Samuel H. Mansfield, 1949 (1332.20)

Detail showing yawl boat having its bottom seams payed with pitch.

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The construction of the Gloucester branch of the Eastern Railroad from Salem in 1848 transformed Cape Ann from a sleepy rural area to a bustling metropolis, with summer visitors from Boston and New York arriving daily. The development of the tourist industry was part of a more general growth of tourism up and down the east coast of the United States. Seacoast and mountain areas were served first by stage coaches and then by railroads bringing urban visitors during the summers. Cape Ann was also a day trip for summer residents of places like Beverly and Manchester.

The railroad journey from Boston was not a difficult one. An advertisement listed in the Boston Directory of 1848 reported that there were eleven trains a day for Portsmouth and Salem. It also noted the: "Advantages of a Residence on this Route. No Railroad affords access to so many, so varied, and so splendid sea-side locations, or passes through so many pleasant cities, towns, and vlllages. Its Depots are within a mile or two of the celebrated beaches of Chelsea, Nahant, Swampscot, and Marblehead. A Branch [railroad] skirts the shores of Massachusetts Bay, in the towns of Beverly, Manchester, and Gloucester, opening most magnificent views of the ocean, leading to most retired spots for sea-bathing, and to the most delightful walks and drives in the native forests, that can be found in New England. This shore is rapidly filling up with marine villas and cottages."

By the 1850s Gloucester had three full-size hotels, the Pavilion, the Union House, and the Gloucester House, as well as a number of summer residents, such as Charles Hovey.

1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 8.9.1861
Procter Brothers

 "There are quite a number of visitors in town at the present time, who come to spend a few weeks by the seaside, during the sultry weather of August."

1864 Gloucester Telegraph 7.9.1864

"Among the many visitors of the Cape at this delightful season is Champney, the artist, who has been sketching among our quiet coves and breezy headlands."


Exhibition History

1988 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 47, ill. in color, p. 112.

Published References

Wilmerding 1971a: Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 88, ill., p. 81.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 47, ill. in color, p. 112.
Moore 1998: "'This Magic Moonshine': Fitz Hugh Lane and Nathaniel Hawthorne." ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 88, text, p. 81.

Related historical materials

Maine Locales & Buildings
Vessel Types
Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
Citation: "View of Indian Bar Cove, Brooksville, Maine, 1850 (inv. 61)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed July 24, 2024).
Record last updated December 12, 2023. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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