An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Historical Materials: People
Stevens, Joseph, Sr. and Dorothy Little
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts on August 15, 1790. He attended Andover and then Harvard, from which he graduated in 1810. He was also part of the medical class of 1814. In 1819, an Andover classmate of his—a Dr. Gage—was leaving Castine, Maine, and recommended that Stevens move to Castine to start his practice. Stevens did so, and in 1821, he married Dorothy Little of Castine. Their son Joseph moved back to Gloucester, and for several summers, he traveled back to Castine to visit his parents and siblings, bringing Lane with him. After Joseph, Sr.'s death, Dorothy moved to Gloucester in 1881. She wanted to be near her sons, Joseph, Jr. and Dr. George B. Stevens, both of whom were living in Gloucester at that time. (1)
(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), 76.
Newspaper clipping from scrapbook with clippings from other dates
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
References Mr. Joseph Stevens as secretary of the American Art-Union, having provided Transactions for 1848, containing 'two paintings by Fitz Henry Lane Esq., of this town, viz. "Rockport Beach" and "Ipswich Bay."'
Castine Historical Society
From July 25-August 16,1848, Castine native Noah Brooks made a return visit to his hometown. He was eighteen at the time, and had been living in Boston. In his diary, there is no mention of Lane, but he recounts Castine gossip, and writes about visits with the Stevens and Witherle familes, accounts of swimming in Back Cove, and reading Wuthering Heights. The daily arrival of "the boat" (the "T.F.S." or the "Secor")—the way it was anticipated and observed by Castine residents—is notable.
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. . . ."
Castine Historical Society, Maine
Writing to her son, Joseph, about selling the house. Also, "Mrs. Nellie Johnson of (Glap?) borough and daughter of Bob Perkins was in, and is very anxious to get one of those pictures of Castine, her husband has always wanted one as we have none, I thought possibly you or Edward or George might have an extra one and told her I would inquire as I was writing. She expressed great pleasure at the thought of my doing so . . . if you have one you can bring or send it with the price and she will gladly take the engraving"
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."
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.
"[The painting] is offered you for $150 on as long time and in as many notes at 3% interest as you choose. . . I believe this to be the only important painting of Gloucester Harbor that Lane never duplicated. . . .Returning from a Gloucester visit while I was still under the roof there, father brought a print of Lane's first Gloucester view, bought of the artist at his Tremont Temple studio in Boston. An extra dollar had been paid for coloring it. For a few years it was a home delight.. . .I had been a few years in Gloucester when Lane began to come, for part of the time a while, if I remember rightly. He painted in his brother's house, "up in town" it then was. I recall visits there to see his pictures. But it was long after, that I could claim more than a simple speaking acquaintance. The Stacys were very kind, aiding him as time went on in selling paintings by lot. I invested in a view of Gloucester from Rocky Neck, thus put on sale at the old reading room, irreverently called "Wisdom Hall." And they bought direct of him to some extent, before other residents. Lane was much my senior and yet we gradually drifted together. Our earliest approach to friendship was after his abode began in Elm Street as an occupant of the old Prentiss [sic-corrected Stacy] house, moved there from Pleasant. I was a frequenter of this studio to a considerable extent, yet little compared with my intimacy at the next and last in the new stone house on the hill. Lane's art books and magazines were always at my service and a great inspiration and delight—notably the London Art Journal to which he long subscribed. I have here a little story to tell you. A Castine man came to Gloucester on business that brought the passing of $60 through my hands at 2 1/2 % commission. I bought with the $1.50 thus earned Ruskin's Modern Painters, my first purchase of an artbook. I dare say no other copy was then owned in town. . . .Lane was frequently in Boston, his sales agent being Balch who was at the head of his guild in those days. So in my Boston visits – I was led to Balch's fairly often – the resort of many artists and the depot of their works. Thus through, Lane in various ways I was long in touch with the art world, not only of New England but of New York and Philadelphia. I knew of most picture exhibits and saw many. The coming of the Dusseldorf Gallery to Boston was an event to fix itself in one's memory for all time. What talks of all these things Lane and I had in his studio and by my fireside!
For a long series of years I knew nearly every painting he made. I was with him on several trips to the Maine coast where he did much sketching, and sometimes was was [sic] his chooser of spots and bearer of materials when he sketched in the home neighborhood. Thus there are many paintings whose growth I saw both from brush and pencil. For his physical infirmity prevented his becoming an out-door colorist."
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Monday, July 13, 1857: "Spent the Day in visiting round Gloucester - Mr. Lane's house, studio + garden, the cemetaries, Eastern Point, +c - the town has increased wonderfully since my youth."
Friday, December 12, 1862: "Went down to Rockport in co of Mr. Lane and Lancaster"
Thursday, August 27, 1863: "Joseph & Mr. Lane came today"
Tuesday, September 1, 1863: "Joseph & Mr. Lane went in stage to Bucksport, for home"
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.
Bouvé and Sharp, Lithographers, 221 Washington Street, Boston
Looking at Castine from Hospital Island. Joseph Stevens, Sr. mentions this print in the letter he wrote to Lane encouraging Lane to make a lithograph of Castine.