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Historical Materials: Contemporary Artists
You have navigated to this pages from catalog entry: Three Master on the Gloucester Railways, 1857 (inv. 29)
John Trask of Gloucester was a man of several trades, employed at various times as butcher, salesman, ship painter, and cigar store owner. He was also a Universalist and a Mason. He was friends with Lane, and in 1857, Lane painted the sign for Trask's ship-painting business—the painting now known as. Trask's shop was at the foot of Duncan Street below Fitz H. Lane’s House, near the Burnham Railways. His 'store' was his office and work space. He did not sell artist's paints, or any other kind of paint that we know of.
In 1858, Lane and Trask designed a tableau for a Gloucester Lyceum fundraiser. The newspapers reported that Trask owned a picture of Georges Bank, presumabaly the picture given by his daughter to the Cape Ann Museum,.
John Trask was born in Gloucester on November 19, 1822, one of thirteen children of Israel Trask and Elizabeth H. Day. (Israel Trask, having volunteered at the age of ten, was a famous participant in the Revolutionary War). John Trask was an early Civil War volunteer in Company K. 12th Massachusetts Regiment. He served as a nurse in the Campbell Hospital in Washington, D.C. before being transferred to the Invalid Corps. While at Fort Warren, Trask began a series of War Letters home describing a soldier’s life that were published in the Cape Ann Advertiser under the pseudonym “Corporal Trim.”
After the war, Trask travelled for a number of years as an agent for Tarr & Wonson’s Copper Paint, including a year spent in South America, which he enjoyed except for the “confounded earthquakes.” (1) In 1875, he purchased a cigar and tobacco store on Front (now Main) Street and advertised, “John Trask Manufacturer and Dealer in Foreign and Domestic cigars, tobacco, Meerschaum Pipes, Snuff, & etc.”
Trask was married twice, first in 1844 to Martha T. Knowlton (1825–52), and second in 1856 to Caroline E. Bray (1827–82). He was survived by one daughter, Carrie W. Trask, who became a teacher in the Gloucester School system. He died in 1887.
– Stephanie Buck
(1) Sarah Dunlap and Stephanie Buck, Fitz Henry Lane: Family and Friends (Gloucester, MA: Church & Mason Publishing; in association with the Cape Ann Historical Museum, 2007), 122.
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
“PRETTY SIGN. – If our readers wish to see something pretty, let them walk down to Burnham Bros. Railway, and take a peep at the new sign recently hung out over the paint shop of Mr. John Trask. It is a painting on canvass 4 1-2 feet by 5, executed by Fitz H. Lane, Esq., representing a view of Burnham Bros. Railways, the wharf and stores adjoining. The front view represents the ‘way’s’ with a ship and schooner receiving a coat of paint. The workshop and counting-room of Burnham Bros., and the buildings of Mr. Joseph Shepherd, together with the old Parrot and Caswell houses are plainly visible. In the background a partial view of the residence of Capt. F. Norwood, on Spring street, the Universalist Church, on Elm St., Capt. Isaac Somes’ residence on Pleasant St., and several other buildings on Prospect St. The view was taken from Rocky Neck and makes a very pretty picture.”
Scene on George's Bank, p. 2, col. 1
American Antiquarian Society
"Scene on George's Bank. Yesterday afternoon we had the pleasure of seeing an oil painting executed by F.H. Lane, Esq., representing two vessels on Georges. One of them is at anchor, the sea making a complete breach over her, forward, while the rollers pass along midships seemingly lifting the vessel almost out of the water. Notwithstanding the apparent roughness of the sea, the crew are [sic] busily engaged hauling in codfish. The other vessel is under sail, flying over the billows like a thing of life, while the angry waves seem as though they would swallow her up. It is a wild looking scene, and said to be perfectly correct by those who have experienced themselves to the hardships and dangers attending George's fishing. The picture is now in the possession of Mr. John Trask."
"Scene on George's Bank- Yesterday afternoon we had the pleasure of seeing an oil painting, executed by F.H. Lane, Esq., representing two vessels on Georges. One of them is at anchor, the sea making a complete breach over her forward, while the rollers pass along midships, seemingly lifting the vessel almost out of water. Notwithstanding the apparent roughness of the sea, the crew are busily engaged hauling in codfish. The other vessel is under sail, flying over the billows like a thing of life, while the angry waves seem as if they would swallow her up. It is a wild looking scene, and said to be perfectly correct by those who have exposed themselves to the hardships and dangers attending Georges fishing. The picture is now in the possession of Mr. John Trask."
Cabinet card photograph
3 x 5 in.
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives (#20133)
Photo of the business of John Trask, tobacconist and cigar maker, at 146 Main Street, Gloucester. Trask is on the left and the older man is not identified.