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Welcome to Fitz Henry Lane Online

Fitz Henry Lane Online is a freely-accessible interactive and interdisciplinary online resource created by the Cape Ann Museum. The website is organized around a catalog of the paintings, drawings, and lithographs of nineteenth-century American painter Fitz Henry Lane (1804–1865).

The Cape Ann Museum, located in Gloucester, Massachusetts (Lane’s birthplace and home for most of his life) has the world’s largest collection of Lane’s paintings, drawings, lithographs, and related material. The website is intended to provide information of interest to a broad audience, and to serve as a resource for information and analysis of Lane’s work. The website focuses on both the formal, aesthetic qualities and provides detailed information on the historical context of his pictures. For more see About the Project.

News:

Laid Down on Paper, Printmaking in America, 1800-1865 awarded the 2021 Ewell L. Newman Book Award, American Historical Print Collectors Society

Cover of Laid Down on Paper catalogue with black and white Fitz Henry Lane print
Laid Down on Paper, Printmaking in America, 1800-1865
has been awarded the 2021 Ewell L. Newman Book Award by the American Historical Print Collectors Society. Published by the Cape Ann Museum in 2020, the book contains papers presented at a symposium organized in conjunction with the Museum’s 2017 exhibition, Drawn from Nature & On Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane. The Award is given annually and recognizes outstanding publications that enhance appreciation of American prints and printmakers.

Fitz Henry Lane has long been recognized as one of America’s most important painters of the mid-19th century. Lane’s success as a printmaker, however, and his life-long fascination with the medium is something that is not widely recognized. The exhibition catalogue of the show and the recent book Laid Down on Paper, Printmaking in America 1800-1865 investigate this important part of Lane’s career. The essays in Laid Down on Paper explore such diverse topics as how race and race relations were portrayed in printing in the period following the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863; the role women artists and artisans played in printmaking during the nineteenth century; and how the rise of industrialization in towns such as Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, affected the careers of Fitz Henry Lane and other printers. 

Laid Down on Paper contains essays by seven print scholars: Helena E. Wright; Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire; Joan Irving; Rebecca Szantyr; Ellen R. Sondag; Christine Garnier; and Margaretta M. Lovell. The introduction was written by Georgia B. Barnhill, curator of the Lane lithograph exhibition; Caroline Sloat served as editor.

Copies of Laid Down on Paper are available through the Cape Ann Museum Shop. The exhibition catalog which accompanied the exhibition Drawn from Nature & On Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane is also available through the Museum Shop.

– M. Oaks
August 5, 2021

Cover of Drawn from Nature & On Stone exhibition catalogue with Fitz Henry Lane print

Two Unusual Hunting Scenes: Lane's Early Watercolor Shooting Seabirds (1842) and Rafes Chasm (1853), Oil on Canvas


Shooting Seabirds, c.1842 (inv. 789)


This exquisite early watercolor is one of only several we know by Lane. It is relatively small, 8 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches and is dated 1842. Lane was still working as a lithographer in Boston and is clearly employing those same techniques here with careful outline drawing and literal coloring. At first look it could be mistaken for a hand-colored lithograph. The work is signed on the front and is inscribed on the back, “John S. Chase Esq. Presented by Mr. Geo Parker, March 21, 1842.”

The site is likely a view from the Magnolia shore on the west side of Gloucester’s outer harbor looking east across to the Eastern Point lighthouse and the open ocean beyond. There is a wonderful primitive quality to the scale and perspective of the boats and the stylized drawing of the breaking waves. Lane has given equal emphasis to all elements of the composition, and while the coloring is quite literal he has created a lovely harmony with the various blues employed across the composition. It is a calm and jewel-like work with the innocent charm of 1840s America.

Lane’s growth in sophistication over time is clearly evident in a very similar scene from the same coast eleven years later,  Rafes Chasm, 1853 (inv. 597), a relatively large oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 48 1/4 inches. Here the drama of the sky and sea is rendered in Turner-like explosions of foam and sunlight nearly obscuring the small figure of the hunter in the foreground.

–Sam Holdsworth

Rafe's Chasm oil painting by Fitz Henry Lane
Rafes Chasm, 1853 (inv. 597)

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Explore works in the Catalog using the Interactive Feature

Dolliver's Neck and the Western Shore from Field Beach, 1857 (inv. 3)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Helen Stevens Babson, 1933 (678.00)
The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.03)
Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Deposited by the City of Gloucester, 1952. Given to the city by Mrs. Julian James in memory of her grandfather Sidney Mason, 1913 (DEP. 200)
Gloucester Harbor, 1859 (inv. 33)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Edwin Barbey, 1981 (2229.00)
New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46)

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865 (48.446)
A Calm Sea, c.1860 (inv. 6)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., 1932 (642.13b)
Stage Rocks and the Western Shore of Gloucester Outer Harbor, 1857 (inv. 8)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Catalina Davis, 1932 (642.13c)
Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14)

Collection: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy), 1948 (1289.1a)

» Browse all the works in the catalog.

» Browse works by type:
Paintings  //  Drawings  //  Prints

» See Fitz Henry Lane works on view at the Cape Ann Museuminteractive features.

Historical Materials

First Order Fresnel Lens for Thacher Island lighthouse beacon
1859 Cape Ann Advertiser 12.2.1859
Wheel of the "Jamestown"
Subscription List and Mailing for "Castine, From Hospital Island" 1855

Browse all Historical Materials »

The Cape Ann Museum is grateful to the following organizations for their support of Fitz Henry Lane Online:
Wyeth Foundation for American Art National Endowment for the Arts Institute of Museum and Library Science Thomfohrde Foundation Danversbank Charitable Foundation
Citation: "Welcome." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/homepage.php (accessed November 29, 2021).
Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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