An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Historical Materials: 19th-century Documentation
"It is the third morning. I am awakened out of my sleep by a dismal shriek from my wife who demands to know whether there's any danger. I rouse myself and look out of bed. The water jug is plunging and leaping like a lively dolphin; all the smaller articles are afloat except my shoes which are stranded on a carpet bag high and dry, like a couple of coal barges. Suddenly I behold them spring into the air and see the looking glass, which is nailed to the wall, sticking fast upon the ceiling. At the same time the door entirely disappears and a new one is opened in the floor. Then I begin to comprehend that the state room is standing on its head.
Before it is possible to make any arrangement at all compatible with this novel state of things, the ship rights. Before one can say: 'Thank Heaven!' she wrongs again. Before one can cry: 'She is wrong' she seems to have started forward and to be a creature actively running of its own accord, with broken knees and failing legs, through every variety of hole and pitfall, and stumbling constantly. Before one can so much as wonder, she takes a high leap into the air. Before she has well done that, she takes a deep dive into the water. Before she has gained the surface, she throws a somerset. The instant she is on her legs, she rushes backward. And so she goes on, staggering, heaving, wrestling, leaping, diving, jumping, pitching, throbbing, rolling and rocking, and going through all these movements sometimes by turns and sometimes all together until one feels disposed to roar for mercy."
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.
Thanks for "View of Owl's Head", a moonlight scene: "Mr. Lane, Dear Sir, when I expressed to you, during your visit to us, the last summer, my admiration of moonlight scenes, I did not for a moment suppose that I should ever become the possessor of one, and that so beautiful as "The View of Owls Head," which you have so kindly, and in so delicate a manner presented to me, and for which, I now beg you to accept my heartfelt thanks, also, be assured, if your pleasure in giving has been half equal to mine in receiving, you have been amply repaid for your kindness, and I alone, am the debtor. . . ."
Letter regarding the burning of the packet ship "Boston"
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
"Dear Sir, Agreeable to your request that I would write something to attach to the picture in your possession of the Burning of the Packet Ship Boston in 1830, your object I suppose more fully to establish the fact that it is really one of the early productions of our fellow townsman and afterward most distinguished artist Fitz H. Lane.
The picture was drawn the same year by Mr. Lane from a sketch I made soon after the disaster aided by one of the passengers S.S. Osgood Esq. afterward a distinguished portrait painter. Mr. Lane had made not reputation of course at this time as an artist. And probably had received no instruction. It afforded me great pleasure to present this picture to you who was so devoted to him, knowing full well tho nothing very great of itself would be highly appreciative [...] as the early work of that [...] particular friend."
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.
". . . will fully appreciate all that I have done in my garden, in ornamenting it, with flowers and plants, Rustic Arbours and Statues, and I only wish that you could be here to witness and enjoy his [Dr. J. L. Stevens] expressions of delight and interest, when a new flower attracts his attention, or some beauty of arrangement meets his eye. Samuel [B. Stevens of Castine] he tells me came up with the expectation of going on a voyage to Australia, but when he arrived in Boston he found the vessel with her compliment of men, and it is very uncertain if he goes in her. Your Mother and all at home are well. I yesterday made a sketch of Stage Fort and the surrounding scenery, from the water. Piper has given me an order for a picture from this point of view, to be treated as a sunset. I shall try to make something out of it, but it will require some management, as there is no foreground but water and vessels. One o’clock, it is very hot, the glass indicates 84° in my room, with the windows all open and a light breeze from the east, this is the warmest day . . .
. . . than devoting it to you. Since writing you last I have painted but one picture worth talking about and that one I intend for you if you should be pleased with it. It is a View of the beach between Stage Fort and Steep bank including Hovey’s Hill and residence, Fresh water cove and the point of land with the lone pine tree. Fessenden’s house, likewise comes into the picture. The effect is a mid day light with a cloudy sky, a patch of sunlight is thrown across the beach and the breaking waves, an old vessel lies stranded on the beach with two or three figures, there are a few vessels in the distance and the Field rocks likewise show at the left of the picture. I think you will be pleased with this picture, for it is a very picturesque scene especially the beach, as there are many rocks which come in to destroy the monotony of a plain sand beach, and I have so arranged the light and shade that the effect I think is very good indeed, however you will be better able to judge of that when you see it, the size is 20 x 33. . ."
Castine Historical Society, Maine
"[John] says Charles proposes to come down on Saturday—to return on Monday—so that may be so—I think of defering sending the pictures till then—it has been my intention to have sent them tomorrow. [??] went away on Monday last before I had time to have them boxed. Mr. Noyes will see to that. The have been, for a day or two, in Witherle & Co.'s store, where they were much admired—& a little remarkable, among the visitors there yesterday was Mr. King—the son of the Keeper of the Light—who was engaged in catching herring while you was at the Rock. He was very much pleased—thought it as natural as life—as it was to his recollection—having only left there a week since. He observed that he would not have believed Mr. Lane had so much in him. In case Charles does not come on Saturday how shall I direct the box—for I shall send it by express to Boston—I don't remember any thing was said about that. I hope you will come over to Owl's Head, as proposed—if so, you & Lane must come & spend one night at least. Our two teacher boarders came in the boat that took you away—but we can continue to accommodate some way or other. Mary is to leave on Monday next."
Single sheet, writing both sides
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.
"My dear Sir,
I hope you will not attribute the delay in acknowledging the receipt of your splendid, and most unexpected Gift to a want of a due appreciation of it. Many reasons have consipired to prevent my doing it – unnecessary to repeat. But I can no longer defer the expressions of our warmest acknowledgements for a present in itself so valuable, and endeared to us by many associations, as a representation of scenery often admired, and which I have many times wished could be transferred to canvas, although vary far from thinking that wish would ever be gratified. You must premit me, however, to say that the Painting, valuable as it is as a work of Art, and pleased as I may be as the possessor of it, is less appreciated by us than the delicate and very generous manner in which its acceptance has been tendered. My love of Art, to which you do politely allude, I am sensible has only wanted opportunity of indulgence to have amounted to a passion. From my earliest days I have wished for opportunities to visit places, where that desire could be gratified, and my reading has only had the effect of increasing my regrets for the want of them, and of encouraging envy for those more fortunate - I feel, too, under great obligations for the Drawing of the "Siege"(1) – I had no expectations you could have produced anything so good from so rough a copy. I shall have it framed for presentation and future reference. Several gentlemen who have called in to see the painting have expressed a desire to have a drawing from you of our town, similar to yours of Gloucester, which they much admire, and of lithographs, I have no doubts copies enough could be disposed of to remunerate you. That of Homans you are aware is feebly drawn, & still worse printed. I feel desirous myself it should be done, if it suits your wishes. There are several points of view, which you did not see, & to which it will be my pleasure, next summer, to carry you. I know many of our citizens would be gratified to have this done by you. Our house we shall expect to be your home, and if, as you suggested in Gloucester, you should come in your Boat, this place could be made the rendezvous, from whence you could start to any place that convenience & inclination might dictate – . . . Permit me again to tender acknowledgements for the picture. It hangs in our parlor, & I never come in to the house, without looking in to see it, & can never cease to feel grateful for your generosity and politeness. "
(1) Joseph Stevens was very interested the Revolutionary war event known as the "Penobscot Expedition" or the "Siege of Castine" by the British on July 25, 1779. In 1852 he handwrote an account of it and many articles are in the family's scrapbook at the Wilson Museum in Castine.
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago
A letter affixed to the verso of Lane's Dream Painting of 1862 in which he describes how the idea for the painting came to him in a dream. Lane writes: "This picture, the Property of John S. Webber Esq, Collector of the Port and District of Gloucester, was (suggested) to the artist by a dream. Sometime last fall while asleep in bed, a richly furnished room was presented to my imagination. Upon the wall my attention was attracted to a picture which I have here endeavored to reproduce. The dream was very vivid and on awakening I retained it in memory for a long time. The effect was so beautiful in the dream that I determined to attempt its reproduction, and this picture is the result. The drawing is very correct, but the effect falls far short of what I saw, and it would be impossible to convey to canvas such gorgeous and brilliant colouring as was presented to me. This picture, however, will give to the beholder some faint idea of the ideal. /signed/ Fitz H. Lane."