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Catalog entry

inv. 88
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance
Boston Harbor
c.1846–47
Oil on canvas
17 x 27 in. (43.2 x 68.6 cm)
Signed and inscribed verso (on strainer): FH Lane 16 Tremont Temple

Commentary

Lane’s lithographs, depicting the Boston skyline as background, date back to the mid-1830s (See View in Boston Harbour, c.1836 (inv. 479), Capt. E. G. Austin's Quick Step, "A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew", 1837 (inv. 480), and View in Boston Harbour, c.1837 (inv. 605)). Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance, painted a decade later, is one of his early views on canvas of that port wherein the skyline plays an integral role, combining atmosphere with the setting sun instead of merely providing static background for a vessel portrait. In this painting, that role is subtle, as the skyline is softened while it blends with mist and clouds at sunset. Contrasts in chroma and value, from foreground to background, coupled with less crowded vessel activity,  lend both depth and serenity that make this painting stand apart from Lane’s later Boston Harbor views.

As in many later paintings, Lane depicted Boston as viewed from Governor’s Island, looking west, eight degrees north, to the State House, which is nearly at dead center in the skyline. While the mist-shrouded skyline adds to the serenity of the view, many prominent buildings that might indicate its extent to north and south are too shrouded to identify. This situation is not helped by infrared scans, which indicate that the skyline was not drawn in pencil first, but painted in free-hand, with only a pencil line to indicate sea level at the waterfront.

As with most of Lane’s later harbor scenes, none of the vessels can be identified by name or owner. This view is also unusual for its foreground, dominated by smaller vessel types, while the large merchant ships are relegated to the background. This raises questions regarding Lane’s prospective clientele for this work, and/or his personal reasons for painting it.

The gundalow is of particular interest, being the humblest example of shipbuilding in this view, yet being nearest in the foreground and being a focal point that catches the eye and directs a counterclockwise line of interest around the painting. Human activity is particularly well drawn and purposeful. Infrared scans of the gundalow reveal careful redrawing of the helmsman and one of the oarsmen, suggesting a response to criticism.

Types of depicted vessels are as follows:   

  1. Merchant ships. The false, painted gunports were then fashionable for ships in the trans-Atlantic packet trades.
  2. Merchant brig at anchor, her sails “hanging in the gear” to dry. She is probably off-loading some cargo to the packet sloop alongside for distribution to small coastal communities.
  3. A topsail schooner, deep-loaded, leaving port for a more distant coastal destination. The square topsails gave the vessel easier motion when sailing offshore in heavy seas.
  4. Packet sloop. The stern gallery with “lights” (windows) was common to packets carrying passengers as well as freight.
  5. Gundalow, in this case a regional variant called a Piscataqua River gundalow, after its place of origin, one of New Hampshire’s most important rivers. A vessel type usually confined to river and short-distance coastal trade.
  6. New England boat, in this case a two-masted open boat used mainly for coastal fishing. The type had many regional variants.
  7. Yawl boat, a ship’s boat carried on the sterns of merchant schooners, also by fishing schooners in the hand-line fisheries.
  8. Side-wheel steamship used in the coastal passenger trade. This example is very similar in profile to the steamer “Yacht” which was the first steam vessel to carry passengers and freight between Boston and Gloucester. See View of Gloucester, (From Rocky Neck), 1846 (inv. 92).
  9. A small schooner yacht, evidenced by the absence of a blue over white flag at her mast head, which would indicate a pilot schooner. Small fast schooners of this size were built as yachts or pilot schooners, and subsequently sold and converted to their alternative uses.

– Erik Ronnberg

[+] See More

Supplementary Images

Infrared image (detail)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Infrared image (detail)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance (under ultra violet light)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance (with raking light to show surface details an... [more]d texture)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance (using x-radiography)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance (using specular reflected light)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Infrared image
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance (detail)
Photo: Marcia Steele
© Cleveland Museum of Art
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Harbor Scene »
Seasons / Weather:   Sunset »
Vessel Types:   Brig »   //   Gundalow (marsh hay) »   //   Schooner »   //   Sloop »   //   Steamship »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Massachusetts Locales:   Boston / Boston Harbor »
Activities of People:   Rowing »
Objects:   Anchor »   //   Barrel »   //   Flotsam »
Building Types:   Commercial Building »

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).

[ top]
map
1837 plan of the City of Boston
Charles Stimpson
1837
9 x 14 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Showing Lane's neighborhood while working in Boston. Lane had studios at the intersection of Washington and State Streets, Summer, Tremont and School Streets.

[+]
map
1847 plan of the City of Boston
S.N. Dickinson, Printer
1847
Map insert to Boston Almanac and Directory
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Residences »   //  Tremont Temple »

[+]
publication
1848 street plan of Boston showing location of Tremont Temple
S. N. Dickinson
1848
Printed map inside Boston Almanac
Published by B. B. Mussey & Co. and Thomas Groom, Boston
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (R910.45 B65 1848)

Map at front of almanac with Tremont Temple highlighted.

Also filed under: Boston Harbor »   //  Maps »   //  Tremont Temple »

[+]
map
1852 Map of the City of Boston and immediate neighborhood
Henry McIntyre
1852
Boston
Boston Public Library: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
Call Number: G3764.B6 1852.M35

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Residences »

[+]
illustration
Boston, and Bunker Hill (from the east)
W.H. Bartlett
Book
American Scenery by N.P. Willis, Esq.
with 121 steel plate engravings from drawings by W.H. Bartlett
Imprint Society Barre, Massachusetts, 1971
[+]
illustration
View of State Street, Boston
W.H. Bartlett
Book
American Scenery by N.P. Willis, Esq.
with 121 steel plate engravings from drawings by W.H. Bartlett
Imprint Society Barre, Massachusetts, 1971
[+]
[ top]
Boston Locales, Businesses, & Buildings: Boston Harbor

During the years after the war of 1812 and before the Civil War, the port of Boston was a center of American deep-water shipping. Trading with China, India, and the West Indies, which had fueled maritime growth in the early years of the century gave way to re-exporting these goods and foreign trade based on the shoe and textile trades. Although second to New York in terms of shipping tonnage, many of New York's shipbuilders and merchants were Boston based. In addition, ship building continued in Boston. Also, the coastal trade (the domestic trade up and down the coast) was still the most efficient way to transport goods and passengers, and accounts for much of the tonnage and shipping traffic.

Although dwarfed by New York, Boston was an active port in the 1840s and 1850s. Its registered tonnage rose from 149,186 in 1840 to 270,510 in 1850. The harbor was a crowded place. For example, on September 18, 1850, 32 ships, 49 barks, 47 brigs, and 52 schooners were reported at Boston.(1)

In 1849, foreign entries at Boston included 215 ships, 305 barks, 908 brigs, and 52 schooners. Coastwise arrivals included 193 ships, 488 barks, 1087 brigs, 4287 schooners, 89 sloops, and 65 schooners.(2)

(1) W.H. Bunting, p.8.

(2) Ibid.

For more information:

Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860

W.H. Bunting, Portrait of a Port, Boston 1852-1914 Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1971.

artwork
View of the City of Boston from Dorchester Heights
Robert Havhell, Jr.
1841
Boston Atheneum
[+]
artwork
Vue du Port de Boston
Garneray del.; Himely sculp.
14 1/2 x 18 in.
Boston Public Library
[+]
artwork
Boston Harbor from Constitution Wharf
Robert Salmon
1833
Oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 41 in.
United States Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Md.
[+]
publication
1848 street plan of Boston showing location of Tremont Temple
S. N. Dickinson
1848
Printed map inside Boston Almanac
Published by B. B. Mussey & Co. and Thomas Groom, Boston
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive (R910.45 B65 1848)

Map at front of almanac with Tremont Temple highlighted.

Also filed under: Boston City Views »   //  Maps »   //  Tremont Temple »

[+]
publication
Boston Harbor Signal Book
John T. Smith
Boston: William White, 1857.
Harvard Depository: Widener (NAV 578.57)

For digitized version, click here.

[+]
artwork
"Britannia" in the Ice
A. de Vaudricourt
Tinted lithograph with color by Bouvé & Sharp, drawn on stone by A. de Vaudricourt from a sketch by John C. King
17 1/4 x 24 7/8 in.
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.
Image: American Antiquarian Society
[+]
artwork
Simpson's Patent Drydock
M. M. Tidd
c.1860
Tinted lithograph with hand coloring
13 7/8 x 22 3/8 in.
Boston Athenaeum

From Sally Pierce and Catharina Slautterback, Boston Lithography, 1825–1880: The Boston Atheneaum Collection (BostonAthenaeum1991): "Tidd drew this print when he was a consulting engineer for Simpson's. He has depicted the clipper ship 'Southern Cross' in the dry dock. Built in 1851, she was known for having sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong in the record breaking time of thirty-two days. The Bethlehem Ship Building Company eventually took over this location and operated a dry dock there until the mid 1940s."

Image: Boston Athenaeum
[+]
illustration
The "Britannia" steamship leaving Boston, U.S.
Wood engraving in The Illustrated London News (October 23, 1847) p.272
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2004671768
Image: Illustrated London News
[+]
chart
U.S. Coast Pilot chart
1893
U.S. Coast Pilot, Atlantic Coast Part 3.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Detail of Coast Pilot chart showing Point Allerton.

[+]
artwork
View of Boston Harbor
John White Allen Scott
oil on panel
1853
Bostonian Society (1884.0209)

Also filed under: Scott, John W. A. »

[+]
artwork
View of Boston in 1848 from East Boston
C.W. Burton, lithographer, Edwin Whitefield, artist
Boston : Published by Whitefield and Smith, 1848.
1 print : lithograph, tinted ; image 50.3 x 111.9 cm., 68.7 x 121.2 cm.
View of the city of Boston from East Boston showing Boston Harbor. The wharves of East Boston can be seen in the foreground.
Number nine of thirty-eight city views published in "Whitefield's Original Views of (North) American Cities (Scenery).
On stone by Charles W. Burton after a drawing by Edwin Whitefield.
Inscribed in brown ink lower right corner of sheet: "Boston Athenaeum from Josiah Quincy. September 28, 1848."
Local Notes:#1848.1.
Image: Boston Athenaeum
[+]
[ top]
Boston Locales, Businesses, & Buildings: State House

The "new" State House is located across from the Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill, and serves as the Massachusetts state capital. The land was once owned by Massachusetts's first elected governor, John Hancock. Charles Bullfinch was the architect of the building, which was completed in 1798.

The dome was originally roofed with wood shingles, which leaked. In 1802 it was covered with copper by Paul Revere's Revere Copper Company. The dome was first painted gray and then light yellow before being gilded with gold leaf in 1874.

photo (historical)
Massachusetts State House c. 1860
c 1860s
Photograph
Courtesy of the Bostonian Society
Image: Courtesy of the Bostonian Society
[+]
artwork
Old State House in Flames
Robert Salmon
The Bostonian Society (1883.0107)
lithograph
1832
"Salmon pinxt" at lower left; "Pendleton, Boston" at lower right
[+]
View of Boston
c.1848
Lithograph
Published by N. Currier, New York
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2002698122
[+]
[ top]

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 (not published)). (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) »

[+]
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 »

[+]
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. 

[+]
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
[+]
[ top]

The rivers of northern New England gave rise to a type of freighting scow called a "gundalow," having square ends, a flat bottom, shallow draft, and sturdy construction going beyond the usual standards for this hull type. The term “gundalow”—variously spelled and pronounced—was first used in the late seventeenth century in New England, and was derived from the Old World term “gondola”—also a flat-bottom vessel, but more varied in hull form and uses. (1)

The rivers and estuaries of Essex County, Massachusetts were subject to tidal variations and their surrounding lowlands were salt marshes which yielded prodigious quantities of grass. The more succulent varieties, called “marsh hay” were valued fodder for livestock, while “thatch,” which grew along the tidal creeks, was used for roofing of buildings, bedding for livestock, and compost for gardens. Grasses on higher elevations could be carted away after cutting, but at lower elevations, it was the job of gundalows to bring it to a landing for  distribution. Gundalows for these tasks were relatively small, less than 40 feet in length, propelled by long oars called “sweeps,” and by poles. Occasionally a single square sail was set from a short mast if the landing was distant and downwind. (2)

Larger gundalows, of more elaborate construction, were to be found on the Merrimac and Piscataqua Rivers of Northern Massachusetts and the Maine–New Hampshire boundary, respectively. The Merrimac gundalows probably reached 45–50 feet in length, had long overhangs with a stem post, a skeg with rudder and tiller, heavy framing, and a mast stepped well forward from which a square sail could be set when going downwind. (3)

Not just confined to the Merrimac River, many of these vessels found their ways to the Ipswich marshes via a canal on the mainland side of Plum Island. Smaller and simpler versions of this type were built to work in the salt marshes of Essex and West Gloucester, dispensing with sails and propelled much of the time by poling through narrow tidal creeks. (4)

Lane took notice of a gundalow in his painting Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester, 1863 (inv. 10) and the remains of another in his Looking up Squam River from Done Fudging, 1850s (inv. 26). In both cases, the hulls are small and simple in detail, but the latter shows part of its heavy inboard construction. Gundalows of this variety survived in Cape Ann estuaries long enough to be photographed.

Piscataqua River gundalows were the largest and most highly developed of this vessel type, measuring 65 feet or more and rigged with a lateen sail set on a very short mast. When sailing under a bridge, the sail could be dipped without lowering and quickly reset once clear. The hull was modeled with a rounded bow and finely shaped stern; many were fitted with a leeboard so the vessel could sail upwind on the broader reaches of the Piscataqua. (5)

Lane’s depiction of a gundalow in Boston Harbor in the mid-1840s is of the type associated with the Piscataqua River, but having features of both earlier and later examples, together with a rig not known to be used on these craft. The “spoon bow” has generally been regarded as a post-1860 feature, yet Lane’s example has one. The stern has a finely modeled transom which is clearly seen in the underdrawing revealed by infrared scanning. Rudders were supposed to be fitted by the early 1800s, but Lane’s example is steered with an oar. The graceful sheer is another feature considered to post-date Lane’s painting. Finally, the rig consists of a gaff- headed sail set from a very short mast. Short fixed masts setting large lateen sails were common to late gundalows, but the gaff rig depicted is so small that its usefulness is limited if not questionable (6).

Close examination of the infrared scans of this image shows careful drafting of the hull and re-drawing of the crew, sweeps, and steering oar. The cargo of casks is also extensively redrawn to show correct stowage. Whether the changes were due to criticisms from others or the artist’s own evaluation is probably lost to history.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry et al., Aak to Zumbra: The World's Watercraft, (Newport News, VA: The Mariners' Museum, 2000), 264.

2. Ibid.; and Nancy V. Weare, Plum Island: The Way It Was, 2nd ed. (Newbury, MA: Newburyport Press, Inc., 1996), 43–48.

3. D. Foster Taylor, "The Piscataqua River Gundalow," The American Neptune II, no. 2 (April 1942): 127–39.

4. Weare, 43–48.

5. Taylor, 127–39.

6. Ibid.; and author's observations.

photo (historical)
Clammers in marsh behind Wingaersheek Beach
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10159

Rare view of a marsh gundalow, being used on the Annisquam River for harvesting salt marsh hay. 

Also filed under: Annisquam River »

[+]
artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

[+]
photo (historical)
Lanesville granite scow
c.1880
Stereograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
[+]
artwork
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance
Fitz Henry Lane
c.1846–47
Oil on canvas
17 x 27 in.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund and partial gift of Travers Newton, Joanna Newton Riccardi, and Georgia Newton Pulos (2004.35)

Detail of gundalow.

[+]
photo (historical)
Granite scow
c.1900
Photograph
Private collection

Granite scow being unloaded at Knowlton's Point, Sandy Bay. Sandy Bay Ledge visible in right background, Dodge's Rock in left background.

[+]
[ top]

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 (not published), 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
[+]
Lumber schooner in Gloucester Harbor
1852
Photograph

Also filed under: Lumber Industry »

[+]
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.

[+]
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.

[+]
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 »

[+]
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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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 (not published)). 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

References:

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.

illustration
Sloop
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.

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publication
Bermudian sloop
1884
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.

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artwork
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 »

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object
Scale model of stone sloop "Albert Baldwin"
William Niemi
c.1940
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.

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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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"Engine-powered vessel" is a collective term used by nautical historians to include all vessel types using engine power of any type for propulsion, whether assisted by sails, oars, or other motive power. In Lane's time, steam reciprocating engines fueled by wood or coal were the only practical source of this power for ships using paddle-wheels or screw propellers to convert heat energy into motion.

For most of the nineteenth century, steamships had sails for auxiliary power; indeed the earliest examples relied principally on sails, using engine power in calm weather to shorten the voyage time or keep to a schedule. As engines became more efficient, powerful, and reliable, sail plans were reduced, to be used only to steady a vessel's motion in a seaway (for the sake of seasick passengers), or to maintain headway if the engine broke down. Only harbor craft, ferry boats, and coastwise passenger steamers relied solely on engine power.

Among Lane's depictions of steamships, the auxiliary steam packet Auxiliary Steam Packet Ship Massachusetts (inv. 442) is a good example of primary reliance on sails, while the steam demi-bark The "Britannia" Entering Boston Harbor, 1848 (inv. 49) and the Cunard Liner "Britannia", 1842 (inv. 259) have relegated sails to secondary (or simply emergency) motive power.

– Erik Ronnberg

artwork
Boston Harbor (detail of steamship)
Fitz Henry Lane
Boston Harbor
1856
Oil on canvas
25 1/2 x 42 1/2 in. (64.8 x 108 cm)
Dated verso: 1856
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Tex. (1977.14)
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Steamer Lewiston, at the Wharf, Castine
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (2015.03)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Steamers »

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model
Harbor ferry "Little Giant"
John Gardner Weld
early 20th century
Wood and metal
Cape Ann Museum (1200)
Image: Erik Ronnberg
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publication
Boston Directory
George Adams
1848
Published by James French, Boston
Volume 1848-49
Boston Public Library
Call number 39999059856813

See p. 30 of directory.

Image: Boston Public Library
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illustration
Bound to Beat
Serrell & Perkins, Printer and Publisher
c.1851
Cartoon
9 1/4 x 13 3/4 in (23.495 x 34.925 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Jonny and a Yankee:

Jonny: "Ho my Hi! 'ow she goes!! it his'nt fair I ham sure t'aint!!! She must 'av an engine hunder the keel..."

Yankee: "Where are your yachts now, Jonny? s-a-y- Do you think your wash tubs can come up to a real Yankee Clipper? Sorry for you, Jonny, but it can't be helped... A Yankee Ship a Yankee Crew, you know Jonny."

Image: Peabody Essex Museum
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Patent drawings for paddle wheel steamer
1842
Lithograph
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2002706878

Design of side wheel steamer showing wheel mechanism, side view and cross-section in ten figures. This design proved a failure in the few vessels that employed it. The paddle wheel enclosures filled with water, causing resistance which greatly impaired efficiency and increased fuel consumption.

– Erik Ronnberg

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artwork
"T.F. Secor" Passenger Steamship
Unknown
c. 1855
Oil on canvas
Maine Maritime Museum
Image: Maine Maritime Museum

Also filed under: Castine »

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PDF
view ]
publication
The Maine Register for the Year 1855 (Steamer Schedule)
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."

Steamer schedules for 1855, including the schedule for the steamer, "T. F. Secor" which served Castine, see pp. 234–35.

Also filed under: "T. F. Secor" (Steamboat) »   //  Castine »   //  Publications »   //  Steamers »

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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

References:

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

2. Ibid., 223.

artwork
Ships in Ice
Fitz Henry Lane
1850s
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
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artwork
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1847
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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Packet shipping was conducted by vessels of many types in many regions over the last four centuries, but the packets depicted by Lane were the products of nineteenth-century mercantilism and the Industrial Revolution. The packets sailing out of Boston and New York for European ports were large vessels, invariably ship-rigged, and if not as sharp-ended as clipper ships, had sufficiently fine hull forms to make fast, if not record, passages.

A packet ship's highest priority was delivery of mail on a regular schedule. Passengers and high-value trade goods occupied the considerable remaining hold space. This was particularly true of west-bound passages, which brought fine European wares and throngs of immigrants to America. East-bound passages brought professionals, students, travelers, and high-value raw and semi-finished materials to European ports, mainly Britain and France, and to a lesser extent, the Netherlands and Germany.

East-bound cargos were dominated by southern products - baled cotton, rice, tobacco, and naval stores. These were delivered to New York and other northern ports by coastal packets (mainly brigs and small ships) for transatlantic shipment. Northern products included flaxseed, iron ore, fruit, wool, hides, and flour. Delivery times were on average well within 30 days, giving credence to the packet lines' promise of scheduled delivery.

West-bound passages, which meant sailing against the wind, took longer—34 to 40 days on average, depending on the port of departure. Cargos and passengers were a far more varied lot with little of the consistency of east-bound counterparts.

Lane's paintings depict Boston and New York packet ships in the peak years of their employment. The Civil War, coupled with the development of reliable steam engines for marine propulsion, posed challenges the sailing ship could not overcome. Coastal packet lines went quickly, the transatlantic lines lasting into the 1870s.

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

Robert G. Albion, Square-Riggers on Schedule (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1938).

Related tables: Ship (Full-Rigged) »  //  Sloop »
photo (historical)
Black Ball Packet Ships in New York Harbor
Anthony Brothers
1860
Photograph
Johnson, H. and Lightfoot, F.S.: Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs, Dover Publications, Inc., New York

Also filed under: New York Harbor »

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artwork
Packet "Nonantum" Riding out a Gale
Samuel Walters
1842
Oil on canvas
24 x 35 in.
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Walters' painting depicts the "Nonantum" homeward bound for Boston from Liverpool in 1842. The paddle-steamer is one of the four Clyde-built Britannia-class vessels, of which one is visible crossing in the opposite direction.

Image: Peabody Essex Museum
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Dr. Armsby exhibited Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance at Albany Gallery of Fine Arts in Albany, New York in 1847.

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Dr. Armsby exhibited "Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance" (no. 136) at Albany Gallery of Fine Arts in Albany, New York in 1847. Painting is now in Cleveland Museum.

E. Corning exhibited "The Steam Ship Hibernia in a Storm at Sea" (no. 93) in Albany Gallery of Fine Arts in Albany, New York in 1847.

I. Newton exhibited "Steamship Crescent City at Sea" (no. 149) at 1850 Albany Gallery of Fine Arts exhibition in Albany, New York. 

Exhibition History

1847 Albany Gallery of Fine Arts: Albany Gallery of Fine Arts, Albany, New York, Second Exhibition, no. 136.
1864 Palmer's Studio: Palmer's Studio, Albany, New York, Painting and Sculpture Exhibited at Palmer's Studio in Aid of the United States Sanitary Commission, no. 2, as Boston Harbor.
1985 Santa Barbara Museum of Art: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara Collects, Part One: European and American Art, as Boston Harbor.

Published References

Albany Gallery 1847: Catalogue of the Second Exhibition, p. 11.
Palmer's Studio 1864: Catalogue of Painting and Sculpture Exhibited at Palmer's Studio, in Aid of the United States Sanitary Commission, as Boston Harbor.
Santa Barbara Museum 1985: Santa Barbara Collects: A Community Exhibition Celebrating the Reopening of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, ill. p. 32, text, p. 30, as Boston Harbor.
Cleveland Museum 2004: Annual Report 2004, ills. pp. 9, 14, text pp. 16, 22, as Boston Harbor.
Litt 2004: "Painting's Glow Now Warms Museum," ill., as Boston Harbor.
Adams 2008: What's American About American Art? A Gallery Tour in the Cleveland Museum of Art, ill. p. 59, text, pp. 13, 58.
Newton and Steele 2009: "The Series Paintings of Fitz Henry Lane: From Field Sketch to Studio Painting," ill., p. 194, text, pp. 200–03, as Boston Harbor. ⇒ includes text
Newton 2010: "Fitz Henry Lane's Series Paintings of "Brace's Rock": Meaning and Technique," as Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance. ⇒ includes text
view all »

Interactive feature

Citation: "Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance, c.1846–47 (inv. 88)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=88 (accessed July 29, 2017).
Record last updated May 19, 2016. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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