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Unfurling Fitz Henry Lane »

Unfurling Fitz Henry Lane from Cape Ann Museum on Vimeo.

Fitz Henry Lane’s paintings are transcendental works of light and air. But they are also treasured accounts of Gloucester’s fishing and trade industries. Erik Ronnberg is a master ship model maker, renowned maritime historian, and Maritime Curator at the Cape Ann Museum, which created the Fitz Henry Lane Catalogue Raisonné. Erik Ronnberg has been critical to expanding the Catalogue Raisonné into almost a three-dimensional experience of mid-19th century Gloucester.
Watch this short film exploring how Fitz Henry Lane’s and Erik Ronnberg’s meticulous attention to detail bring 19th century Gloucester to life.

Unknown Lane Watercolor Discovered at an Auction in Belgium »

A watercolor of a ship in rough seas
Three Master in Rough Seas (Watercolor), c.1856 (inv. 795)

This work is a recent discovery as of 2022, a slightly smaller watercolor version of the dynamic small oil, Three Master in Rough Seas, 1856 (inv. 4), in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum. This painting was acquired at a recent auction in Belgium as an unknown work. Gallery labels on the back show that it was at some point sold through the Max Bine Gallery in Paris which was active from 1914–1930. Lane did very few watercolors; we have not seen him use the medium as preparatory works for oils where one would expect a looser technique as he worked out ideas. The brushwork here is very precise and he doesn’t use washes or scumbles as is typical in preparatory works. He appears to be copying his oil original as the composition and details precisely follow the oil painting.

The original oil went directly from Lane’s studio to the Stacy family in Gloucester where it descended until given to the Cape Ann Scientific, Literary and Historical Association in 1948. This watercolor version is unrecorded—perhaps Lane did it for a friend as all his commissions we know of were for oil paintings, as was typical of the time. The paper is a fairly smooth, off-white paper, not a heavy or wove paper as one would expect for a watercolor commission. It is painted right to the edges of the paper, again atypical of a commission, where a border would be expected as Lane used in the watercolor Shooting Seabirds, c.1842 (inv. 789). How it got to Paris in the early 1900s remains a mystery.

– Sam Holdsworth

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)

F.H. Lane's First Complete Lithography Exhibition at the Cape Ann Museum »

Drawn from Nature & on Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane

OCT. 7, 2017—MARCH 4, 2018 

New Discoveries: Lane Pendants Descended in New England Family »

      

A pair of Lane marine paintings with a fascinating provenance has surfaced through an old New England family with maritime ties to the brothers Robert B. and John M. Forbes. The paintings (Pilot Pendant: Approaching (inv. 296) and Pilot Pendant: Departing (inv. 297)) are clearly pendants, a pair intended to be displayed together. They are quite small, 17” by 14”, and were likely inset into wall paneling, perhaps on either side of a fireplace.

Fitz Henry Lane Online Adds Image Comparison Tool »

Example of the Image Comparison Tool being used in Side-by-Side mode to compare Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) with the infrared image. Up to four images can be compared simultaneously.

Northshore Magazine Features Fitz Henry Lane Online »

 Announcement in NorthShore Magazine, May/June 2016.

New Discoveries: "Phantom of Boston" Donated to the Cape Ann Museum »

Phantom of Boston, c.1850s (inv. 574)
This remarkable Lane discovery has been a long time in the works. The painting was acquired by Gustav Klimann in the late 1950s from an antiques dealer in Essex, the town immediately west of Gloucester. Mr. Klimann, who died in the 1970s, was a well-known art conservator and restorer in Boston who did work for numerous collectors, galleries and museums in New England from the 1930s through the 1960s. From the first moment he saw the painting, Mr. Klimann thought it was a Lane. He had seen many Lanes, and may have restored some in the collection of his good friend Maxim Karolik, the pre-eminent collector of F.H. Lane and other nineteenth-century American artists. The Karolik collection had over a dozen Lanes and now forms the backbone of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston's American painting collection.

Museum Acquisitions: Ships in Fog on Display at the Princeton Art Museum »

Ships in Fog, Gloucester, Massachusetts, c.1860 (inv. 293)
The Princeton University Art Museum has just acquired Fitz Henry Lane’s Ships in Fog.

In 2015, the Princeton University Art Museum acquired this picture, one of Lane’s rare fog paintings. It had been in a private collection for many years and has rarely been exhibited, but is currently on display at the museum in Princeton, N.J.

Citation: "News." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/page/news.php (accessed October 5, 2022).
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