An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Historical Materials: Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
Georges Bank, Mass.
Until the early 1830s fishing on Georges Bank had been done on a small scale since colonial times. Its dangerous shoals and ferocious seas in storms discouraged any large-scale fishing attempts. Even then, anchoring to fish—particularly in winter—was at risk of danger in the event of heavy weather. Vessels at anchor during a blizzard faced not only mountainous waves, decks and rigging iced over, and piercing cold, but the risk of collision with another vessel whose anchor cable had parted and was helplessly drifting down on vessels in her lee. Such collisions were usually fatal to the vessels involved and their crews. The death toll in many years could be staggering, both for the fishery and the families of lost fishermen.
– Erik Ronnberg
Steel engraving after drawing in G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883)
8 1/2 x 11 in. (page size)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.
See pl. 32.
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."
Gloucester Telegraph p. 2, col. 3
Boston Public Library
Accession # G587
"PICTURES. – Two of Lane's finest paintings are on exhibition at the Marine Insurance Reading Room. One is a most spirited representation of a gale on the sea coast. Huge rollers come rumbling towards the rocky foreground where the spray dashes high and the receding wave is thrown up sharp and wedgelike by the great crested breaker under which it is speedily overwhelmed. In the middle distance a bald headland receives the sun's rays which slant through the mist from an opening in the heavy clouds. A close reefed ship leaps proudly over the waves and safely weathers the dangerous point beyond.
The companion-piece is a bay scene in which the setting sun throws a flood of golden light over the placid water. Vessels of different kinds, with sails in light and shadow, enliven the picture. A homely old sloop getting underweigh well sets off the most prominent object - a handsome ship under full canvass, slowly gliding over the ground-swell with a light breeze afloat, while there is hardly enough below to make a cat's paw.
These pictures were painted for the spring exhibition of the National Academy at New York, whither they will go unless stopped by some appreciative purchaser.
In Lane's studio are several gems of art. - Wind against Tide on Georges, a stirring pure marine, and Recollections of Mount Desert, an exquisite bit of landscape, evince a versatility of pencil which he is not generally known to possess.
The demand for a View of Gloucester worth having (as that poor caricature of Tidd's is not) has induced Lane to supply another, which is the third and largest of his series. It is taken from Rocky Neck, like its predecessor. Of course all the modern improvements visible from that point of view are represented with the artist's usual accuracy of drawing. To the first 300 subscribers the print will be offered at the low price of $2.25 per copy. The original painting from which it is lithographed, and several other of his pictures, will be distributed by lot among those who choose to take their copies at $2.75 – a price which the print alone will command before the entire edition is exhausted."
"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."
Whole chart 13 x 9 1/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
This section of the chart shows the eastern end of Georges Bank and the winter codfishing ground. Note the locations of tide rips and shoals which posed particular hazards in easterly winter storms.
– Erik Ronnberg
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
A vessel having returned from the fishing grounds with a fare of split salted cod, is discharging it at a fish pier for re-salting and drying. The fish are tossed from deck to wharf with sharp two-pronged gaffs, and from there to a large scale for weighing. From there, they will be taken to another part of the wharf for washing and re-salting.
– Erik Ronnberg
Gravure plate printing on pulp paper in G. Brown Goode The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
7 1/2 x 5 7/8 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.
See pl. 30.
Derived with modifications from Lane's painting, /entry:9/, the image depicts fishing in heavy weather on Georges Bank. While Lane's version was intended to depict this fishery in the 1840s, Collins' version shows a dory on the stern davits instead of a yawl boat—a practice that became common after the Civil War.
– Erik Ronnberg