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Catalog entry

inv. 55
Near Reef of Norman's Woe
1850s
Oil on canvas
33 x 44 x 3 in. (83.8 x 111.8 x 7.6 cm)
No inscription found

Commentary

This painting of the sun breaking through a foggy morning on a quiet shore closely relates to Sunrise Through Mist of 1852 (below). The composition is nearly identical: the cluster of larger vessels with drying sails hanging just off the shore, a small sloop drifting alongside the shore rocks, the illuminated foreground rock leading to the arc of the beach where the man in the ubiquitious red shirt loads fish, probably cod or haddock, from his dory into the waiting ballast cart. Another man sits on an overturned barrel beside beautifully painted examples of a yawl boat and dory pulled up on the beach.

The position of the sun and the vaporous light filtering through the low lying mist is also almost identical to Sunrise Through Mist. However, here the tonality is more to the yellow and blue as opposed to the red and pink. Note the swirls of blue-gray fog partially enveloping the vessels and hanging off the hills of the headland.

The location is undetermined, certainly not off Norman's Woe reef, which juts off the rockbound western shore of Gloucester Harbor. It could be a pastiche of a few scenes—the headland is reminiscent of Stage Rocks in Gloucester Harbor.  If set in Gloucester, this could be a somewhat imaginary re-creation of Field Beach, which has a similar relationship to Gloucester Harbor and was a common landing place for small boats, though rarely in waters this calm. There was considerable inshore small-boat fishing going on around Gloucester Harbor, and the wagon—known as a ballast cart for the rocks it hauled to fill the holds of empty vessels—is of a design common to Cape Ann and seen in many other Lane paintings.

The relationship in style, subject and composition to the three other paintings seen below (Inv # 98, 81, 56), all painted in 1852, is fascinating and points toward a common European influence of romanticized shoreside scenes in light-filled calms that have been repeated in various forms since the 1600's. It is still unknown what, if any, specific influence Lane may have encountered to bring on this series-like group of works in 1852.     

For a long time Near Reef of Norman's Woe was believed to have been painted by an artist from the Scandinavian school and has only recently been convincingly attributed to Lane.

– Sam Holdsworth

[+] See More

 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Landscape Types:   Beach »   //   Rocky Shoreline »
Seasons / Weather:   Fog / Mist »
Vessel Types:   Brig (Half) »   //   Sloop »   //   Yawl Boat/ Dory/Wherry »
Vessel Activites:   Beached »   //   Drying Sails »
Cape Ann Locales:   Norman's Woe »
Animals & People:   Livestock (horse / sheep / cow) »
Activities of People:   Washing / Drying / Gutting Fish »
Objects:   Cod »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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object
Ballast cart
unknown
Wood. Iron hardware and wheel rims.
12' 5"l. x 7' I" w. x 4' 9" h.
19th and early 20th c.
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Thomas A. Robinson, 1983 (2344)

While heavily constructed to transport ballast stone from local beaches, this style of cart was used for many purposes. It is otherwise identical in design to horse-drawn carts depicted in Lane’s paintings.

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object
Fish basket
maker unknown
early 20th century
Wood, wicker, cordage
19 1/2 x 23 in.
Cape Ann Museum (2089-3 G/O EARR)

Used at wharfside for carrying fish and small fishing gear.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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Norman’s Woe is a large rock sitting a few hundred feet off the western shore of Gloucester harbor. It lies between Gloucester and Magnolia and is just outside the confines of the harbor, if Eastern Point is used as the defining southern extent of the protected water. It can be reached from the shore at low tide over the rocks and is an island at high tide.

Tradition has it that a man named Norman was shipwrecked and lost there, but there is no historical record to substantiate it. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized it in his famous poem "The Wreck of the Hesperus" in 1840 though he never laid eyes on the rock until many years after he wrecked the Hesperus on it. His inspiration may have come from the wreck of the ship "Favorite" from Wiscasset, Maine on Norman’s Woe during the great blizzard of 1839. All hands were lost, one of whom was a woman who was found dead still tied to the mast which had floated ashore.

Because it lies outside the protection of the easterly arm of Eastern Point, Norman’s Woe and the surrounding rocky coast take the brunt of huge waves rolling in from the open ocean to the east, particularly after a storm. The high hills behind that western shore act as a wind block while tide and waves push a craft shoreward making Norman’s Woe the site of numerous shipwrecks and much loss of life through the years.

Lane did a drawing and some number of paintings of the site. He drew the rock from the shore looking to the south. Instead of the violent seas for which that shore is known he depicted it in a glassy calm. One of his landmark late paintings The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18) shows a boat drifting idly in the still late afternoon light in the cove just to the north of the rock of Norman’s Woe.

photo (historical)
Norman's Woe
Herman W. Spooner
1897
Glass negative
5 x 7 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

As noted on the reverse: "View from Rafe's Chasm, showing Reef of Norman's Woe off Magnolia. 1897."

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photo (historical)
No. 10705 The Reef of Norman's Woe, scene of the "Wreck of the Hesperus"
Underwood & Underwood, Publishers
c.1860
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo View: "Geography – Norman's Woe is a headland on the mainland of Massachusetts just south of Gloucester Harbor, which is directly before us here. That very small island, to the left of the cliff, is called Norman's Woe Rock. Both places are so named because of the shipwreck of some member of the Norman family,who were among the early settlers in this locality.

Geology – The irregular jointing shows very clearly along the face of this cliff, where the action of the wind and weathering have cleared away the loose particles between the joints.  The reason these rocks have withstood the destructive action of the erosion and weathering is because they are formed cheifly of felspar; in fact, this is a dike of that material.

Literature - Longfellow's poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus," has immortalized the traditions that centre about these shores. The pounding of the waves uon this rock-bound promontory, and the dismal howling of the wind at this point, furnished him with the inspiration needed for his most favored masterpiece. 

People and Homes - Seated upon our left is a very typical New England gentlemen, a real "down east Yankee." He exhibits all the qualities that made his ancestors so staunch in their determination to defend their adopted land."

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (Fresh Water Cove)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850: 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850: 3,213."

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map
1819 Cape Ann Harbor plan
E. Blunt
1841
Engraving of 1819 survey taken from American Coast Pilot 14th edition
9 1/2 x 8 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
D32 FF5

Also filed under: Dolliver's Neck »   //  Eastern Point »   //  Maps »   //  Ten Pound Island »

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map
1830 Mason Map
John Mason
1830
Series Maps. v. 13: p. 17
SC1 / series 48X
Massachusetts Archives, Boston
Image: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
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publication
1847 Gloucester Telegraph 12.25.1847
12.25.1847
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

In this article, a moonlight view of the harbor of Cape Ann by Lane is described in detail by a viewer and his skill in depicting the Cape Ann coastline is praised. Lane's associates, Salmon and Birch, are mentioned, but as comparisons to Lane. "Those who visited his room, were highly pleased with the skill he manifested in portraying the beauties of our coast."

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1849 Gloucester Telegraph 9.22.1849
9.22.1849 (date uncertain)
Newspaper

"Mr. Lane has just completed a third picture of the Western Shore of Gloucester Harbor, including the distance from 'Norman's Woe Rock' to 'Half Moon Beach.' It was painted for Mr. William E. Coffin of Boston, and will be on exhibition at the artist's rooms for only a few days; we advise all our readers who admire works of art, and would see one of the best pictures Mr. Lane has ever executed..."

 "...solitary pine, so many years a familiar object and landmark to the fisherman."

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publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 2.28.1862
2.28.1862
Newspaper clipping
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"F.H. Lane, Esq., has recently finished a splendid painting of Norman's Woe, and scenery in the vicinity. It is a sunset scene, and gorgeous to the extreme."

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map
Locator map: Norman's Woe
H.F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Postcard of Norman's Woe
c.1900
Colored lithograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Published by C.T. American
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publication
"The Wreck of the Hesperus"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
First published in the New World in January 1840; then published in Ballads and Other Poems in 1842.

A Narrative poem based on the Blizzard of 1839 off Norman's Woe of Gloucester, in which many ships sank and many lives lost, including that of a woman whose body washed up on shore, still tied to a mast. There was also a real vessel "Hesperus" which wrecked off of Boston.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

It was the schooner Hesperus,
      That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,
      To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
      Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
      That ope in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
      His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
      The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
      Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
      For I fear a hurricane.

"Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
      And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
      And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,
      A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
      And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain
      The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
      Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
      And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
      That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat
      Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
      And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
"'T is a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!" —
      And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
"Some ship in distress, that cannot live
      In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light,
      Oh say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
      A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
      With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
      On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
      That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave
      On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
      Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
      Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
      A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
      On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
      She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
      Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
      Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
      Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
      With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
      Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
      A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
      Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
      The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
      On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
      In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
      On the reef of Norman's Woe!
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Hermaphrodite brigs—more commonly called half-brigs by American seamen and merchants—were square-rigged only on the fore mast, the main mast being rigged with a spanker and a gaff-topsail. Staysails were often set between the fore and main masts, there being no gaff-rigged sail on the fore mast. (1)

The half-brig was the most common brig type used in the coasting trade and appears often in Lane’s coastal and harbor scenes. The type was further identified by the cargo it carried, if it was conspicuously limited to a specialized trade. Lumber brigs (see Shipping in Down East Waters, 1854 (inv. 212) and View of Southwest Harbor, Maine: Entrance to Somes Sound, 1852 (not published)) and hay brigs (see Lighthouse at Camden, Maine, 1851 (inv. 320)) were recognizable by their conspicuous deck loads. Whaling brigs were easily distinguished by their whaleboats carried on side davits (see Ships in the Harbor (not published)). (2)

 – Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry, et al., Aaak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 268, 274; and A Naval Encyclopaedia (L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1884. Reprint: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1971), 93, under "Brig-schooner."

2. W.H. Bunting, An Eye for the Coast (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House: 1998), 52–54, 68–69; and W.H. Bunting, A Day's Work, part 1 (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House: 1997), 52.

Related tables: Brig »
photo (historical)
Canadian Brig "Ohio" in East Gloucester
c.1910
Photograph

Canadian brig "Ohio" iced in off Reed & Gamage Wharf, East Gloucester.

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photo (historical)
A half brig being towed to the Bay in New York Harbor
George Stacy
1859–60
Photograph
Johnson, H. and Lightfoot, F.S.: Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs, Dover Publications, Inc., New York
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illustration
Hermaphrodite Brig
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

An hermaphrodite brig is square-rigged at her foremast; but has no top, and only fore-and-aft sails at her main mast.

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artwork
Lumber Brig in High Seas
Fitz Henry Lane
n.d.
Oil on canvas
10 1/8 x 16 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of the Estate of Anne K. Garland, 1990 (2676.00)

Detail of lumber brig.

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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Sloops are one-masted sailing vessels which, in American examples, set fore-and-aft sails but usually no square sails. Thus, staysails, or jibs, are set from the fore stay(s) and a quadrilateral mainsail is set from the mast and spread by a gaff and a boom. The larger sloops would often set a triangular topsail over the main sail. (1)

The sloops depicted by Lane were used in various coastal trades, each with its own requirements, which dictated the sizes and details of their hulls and rigs. Most elegant were the packet sloops, which transported passengers, mail, and higher value goods between specific ports on regular schedules. They usually measured between sixty and seventy-five feet on deck, as dictated by anticipated shipping volume. Finely finished, they usually had stern galleries—a row of windows across the transom with ornamental moldings—and varied color schemes. Examples of packet sloops are in Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14) (center, middle ground) and Study of Ships, 1851 (inv. 141) (foreground), both of which probably made trips between Gloucester and Boston, or Gloucester and Newburyport. (2)

Another specialized sloop of similar size was the stone sloop, used to ship granite blocks from stone-loading piers around Cape Ann to other ports. They were similar in rig to packet sloops, but of heavier construction with greater hold capacity and absence of decoration. Their stout appearance was augmented by simple color schemes, or even tarred topsides, reflecting the wear and strain imposed by their heavy cargos. Lane depicted these vessels in his painting of Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45), with a sloop (at left) preparing to load at wharf-side, and another (at right) sailing out with a cargo. (3)

Sloops of the more work-a-day sort are the most commonly seen examples in Lane’s paintings, most of them appearing in his views of Boston Harbor. Usually deep-loaded and looking weather-worn, they contrast sharply with the packet- and clipper ships which dominate the scene. Sloops of this type are rarely seen in Lane’s paintings of Gloucester Harbor and the Maine coast, although they were certainly needed for short-distance transportation (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), View of Camden Mountains from Penobscot Bay, c.1852 (inv. 207), Sunrise on the Maine Coast, Mount Desert Island, 1856 (not published)). For coastal Maine, lack of railroads for heavier freight and greater distances between ports made the use of schooners with larger carrying capacity a greater necessity. (4)

In Lane’s views of New York Harbor, a regional sloop variant, the Hudson River Sloop, appears in New York Harbor, c.1855 (inv. 46) (bow view, left) and A Calm Sea, c.1860 (inv. 6) (stern view, right). This type had become prominent in the Hudson River packet trade between New York City, Albany, and beyond to points north and west as far as the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal.  Large vessels for their rigs, they were well-finished and well-kept, reflecting pride of ownership and rivalry among their owners and crews. (5)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. A Naval Encyclopaedia (Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1884. Reprint: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1971), 59.  See first definition of "sloop" and definition of "sloop-rigged."

2. Robert Greenhalgh Albion, William A. Baker, and Benjamin Woods Labaree, New England and the Sea (Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1972; reprinted in 1994), 127–28.

3. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1935), 300–02.

4. Ibid., 300.

5. Ibid., 298–300.

illustration
Sloop
Engraving in R. H. Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 13th ed. (Thomas Groom & Co. Publisher, 1873)

A sloop has one mast, fore-and-aft rigged.

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publication
Bermudian sloop
1884
A Naval Encyclopaedia:
Dictionary of nautical words and phrases
Special Articles on Naval Art and Science
Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co.

'Mudian, "Mugian, or Bermudian. A boat special to the Bermuda islands, usually decked, with the exception of a hatch; from 2 to 20 tons burden; it is short, of good beam, and great draft of water abaft, the stem and keel forming a curved line. It carries an immense quantity of ballast. Besides a long main- and short jib-boom, it has a long, taperking, raking mast, stepped just over the forefoot, generally unsupported by shrouds or stays; on it a jib-headed mainsail is hoisted to a height of twice, and sometimes three times, the length of the keel. This sail is triangular, stretched at its foot by a long boom. The only other sail is a small foresail or jib. They claim to be the fastest craft in the world for working to windward in smooth water, it being recorded of one that she made five miles dead to windward in the hour during a race; and though they may be laid over until they fill with water, they will not capsize.

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artwork
Bermudian sloop in St. Georges Harbor, Bermuda
Edward James
c. 1864
St. George's Historical Society
Detail of painting of St. George's Harbour, Bermuda, during US Civil War, with a Confederate blockade runner anchored in the foreground.

Also filed under: Puerto Rico »

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object
Scale model of stone sloop "Albert Baldwin"
William Niemi
c.1940
Wood, metal, cordage, cloth, paint.
Scale: ¼ in. = 1ft. (1:48)
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Roland and Martta Blanchet (1997.17.3)

Although built in 1890 and larger than the stone sloops of Lane’s time, the "Albert Baldwin’s" hull form, rig, and loading boom are very similar to those of the 1840s and 1850s.

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artwork
Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
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The term “wherry”—variously spelled—has a long history with many hull types, some dating from the fifteenth century. (1) The version known to Lane appears to be a variant of the dory hull form and probably was developed by French and English fishermen in the Newfoundland fisheries before 1700. (2) From that time, the wherry and the dory co-evolved, their similarities the result of their construction, their differences the result of use. By the early nineteenth century, their forms reached their final states, if fragments of contemporary descriptions are any indication. (3)

By the time Lane was depicting wherries, the type (as used for fishing) resembled a larger, wider version of a dory. The extra width was due to greater bottom width (both types had flat bottoms), with a wider transom at the stern instead of the narrow, v-shaped “tombstone.” These features are easy to see in one of his drawings (see Three Men, One in a Wherry (inv. 225)) and a painting (see Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98)), the latter depicted alongside a dory, clearly showing the differences.

No published descriptions of the uses of wherries on Cape Ann in Lane’s time have come to light, but an example in broadside view offers one use. In Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344), a pinky (in right foreground) has a dory and a wherry in tow, the latter loaded with a gill net for catching mackerel. (4) The greater size of the wherry is required for stowing the net, as well as setting it while the dory tows away one end to set it in way of the mackerel school.

In Lane’s time, wherries would have been used where bulky gear was called for in the coastal fisheries, i.e. gill nets, and fish traps such as pound nets, fyke nets, and lobster traps. Migrating fish schools (herring, mackerel) and shellfish were the target species.

The dory’s development was first dictated by its use in shore fishing, where small size and light weight made it easy to maneuver around rocks and shallows, and to haul ashore at the end of a day’s work. Its simple design made it easy and cheap to build. This is borne out by the standardized construction and sizes used by Simon Lowell’s boat shop at Salisbury Point, Massachusetts at the turn of the nineteenth century. Lowell called his boats “wherries,” but in Swampscott, Massachusetts, the fishermen, who used them called them “dories,” which may mark the beginning of the latter term’s wider use. (5)

The dories we see in Lane’s paintings are in virtually every way like the ones we know today. One of the best examples (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)) even shows interior detail, including frames, leaving no doubt about its construction. Other good examples are found in Salem Harbor, 1853 (inv. 53), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and Sunrise through Mist, 1852 (inv. 98).

For inshore fishing, dories were used to catch mackerel and herring, either with hook and line or with small nets. Hooks and line were used for flat fish (flounder, dab, and fluke), rock cod, hake, and cunner. Eels were speared (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94)), clams were dug, and lobsters trapped. In Lane’s later years, the use of dories in trawling (setting long “trawl lines” with many baited hooks) was in its earliest. This method required six to ten dories carried on board a schooner to fish on the distant banks off New England and Canada. Early records of dory trawling in New England are fragmentary, giving the mid-1840s as the time of introduction. (6) The Gloucester-owned schooner "Anna"  made a successful dory trawling trip to the Grand Banks in 1854, but no depiction of this vessel by Lane has been found or recorded. (5) Despite successful early efforts, dory trawling from Gloucester was slow to be accepted, and the fishery had very limited growth prior to 1860. (7)

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry et al., Aak to Zumbra (Newport News, VA: The Mariners’ Museum, 2000), 634.

2. John Gardner, The Dory Book (Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing Company, 1978), 5–9.

3. Ibid., 25–29.

4. John Wilmerding, ed., Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988), 89, 92. The “possibly discarded whaleboat” is definitely a wherry.

5. Gardner, 9, 10.

6. Wesley George Pierce, Goin’ Fishin’ (Salem, MA: Marine Research Society, 1934), 63–64.

7. Raymond McFarland, A History of New England Fisheries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1911), 279.

photo (historical)
Lobsterman's dory beached at Salt Island
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 114 Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
John S. E. Rogers
c.1870
Stereograph card
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, Looking Southwest. This gives a portion of the Harbor lying between Ten Pound Island and Eastern Point. At the time of taking this picture the wind was from the northeast, and a large fleet of fishing and other vessels were in the harbor. In the range of the picture about one hundred vessels were at anchor. In the small Cove in the foreground quite a number of dories are moored. Eastern Point appears on the left in the background."

Southeast Harbor was known for being a safe harbor.

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model
Model of the pinky "Essex" with dory and wherry alongside
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
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illustration
Hull chart
In Howard I. Chappelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: Norton, 1951), p. 154

See fig. 56.

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model
Joseph A. Proctor (Gloucester, MA) fisherman's dory
Wood
Gloucester, MA
4 x 33 1/2 x 7 1/4 in (10.16 x 85.09 x 18.415 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum
Image: Peabody Essex Museum

Also filed under: Objects »   //  Ship Models »

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The yawl boat was a ninteenth-century development of earlier ships' boats built for naval and merchant use. Usually twenty feet long or less, they had round bottoms and square sterns; many had raking stem profiles. Yawl boats built for fishing tended to have greater beam than those built for vessels in the coastal trades. In the hand-line fisheries, where the crew fished from the schooner's rails, a single yawl boat was hung from the stern davits as a life boat or for use in port. Their possible use as lifeboats required greater breadth to provide room for the whole crew. In port, they carried crew, provisions, and gear between schooner and shore. (1)

Lane's most dramatic depictions of fishing schooners' yawl-boats are found in his paintings Gloucester Outer Harbor, from the Cut, 1850s (inv. 109) and /entry:311. Their hull forms follow closely that of Chapelle's lines drawing. (2) Similar examples appear in the foregrounds of Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 44), and The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1847 (inv. 271). A slightly smaller example is having its bottom seams payed with pitch in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor, 1847 (inv. 23). In Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a grounded yawl boat gives an excellent view of its seating arrangement, while fishing schooners in the left background have yawl boats hung from their stern davits, or floating astern.

One remarkable drawing, Untitled (inv. 219) illustrates both the hull geometry of a yawl boat and Lane's uncanny accuracy in depicting hull form in perspective. No hull construction other than plank seams is shown, leaving pure hull form to be explored, leading in turn to unanswered questions concerning Lane's training to achieve such understanding of naval architecture.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 222–23.

2. Ibid., 223.

artwork
Ships in Ice
Fitz Henry Lane
1850s
Oil on canvas
12 1/8 x 19 3/4 in.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M.and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865 (48.447)

A schooner's yawl lies marooned in the ice-bound harbor in this detail.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
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artwork
Gloucester Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1847
Oil on canvas
28 1/2 x 41 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Samuel H. Mansfield, 1949 (1332.20)

Detail showing yawl boat having its bottom seams payed with pitch.

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Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities: Fishing

Fishing in Lane's time saw the height of hand-lining gear use and the introduction of multi-hook fishing (trawling) for ground fish (cod, halibut, haddock, hake, etc.). Then new to the mackerel fishery was the purse seine, which allowed a whole school of mackerel to be caught in one "set" instead of hand-lining over the rails, one fish at a time. These changes in fishing technology, in time, brought new life to the fishing industry on Cape Ann, which had ceded her leadership in the New England fishing industry to Maine. (1)

Lane would not live to see Cape Ann's restored dominance in the fisheries, nor did his late work document the process of change in any significant way. Apparently content with what he saw and depicted in the 1840s and early '50s, he did little to explore later developments and focused more on other types of merchant vessels in other harbors.

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

Wayne O'Leary, Maine Sea Fisheries (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996), 160–79.

chart
Chart of fishing grounds from Penobscot Bay to Cape Ann
c. 1850
Chart
Fishery Industries of the United States, Sect. 3

Also filed under: Penobscot Bay »

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 82 View of Sch. "E. A. Horton"
Procter Brothers, Publisher
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Said schooner was captured about the first of September, 1871, by Capt. Torry, of the Dominion Cutter 'Sweepstakes,' for alleged violation of the Fishery Treaty. She was gallantly recaptured from the harbor of Guysboro, N.S., by Capt. Harvey Knowlton., Jr., (one of her owners,) assisted by six brave seamen, on Sunday night, Oct. 8th. The Dominion Government never asked for her return, and the United States Government very readily granted her a new set of papers."

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publication
1857 Cape Ann Advertiser 10.1.1857
Procter Brothers
Various dates
Newsprint
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"A Prize Race—We have heard it intimated that some of our fishermen intend trying the merits of their "crack" schooners this fall, after the fishing season is done. Why not! . . .Such a fleet under full press of sail, would be worth going many a mile to witness; then for the witchery of Lane's matchless pencil to fix the scene upon canvass. . ."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 12.13.1861
12.13.1861
Newspaper

This article details a War Correspondence and an argument against the retrenchment of the Gloucester fishing business.

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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 12.6.1861
12.6.1861
Newspaper

"They remarked, that if the fishing business is to be continued in the town of Gloucester, and followed successfully, there must be a retrenchment in the outfits..." 

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publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.10.1862
1.10.1862
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"VISIT TO LANE'S STUDIO.

We called at the studio of this artist a few days ago, and found several new paintings had been added to his collection since our last visit. The first that arrested our attention was a view of Good Harbor Beach. . . .

A scene outside Eastern Point, during a fresh sou'wester, is full of life, and faithfully portrayed on the canvass. . . .

A fancy sketch, representing a storm scene, is also on exhibition. . . .

The Artist has now on his easel a large picture 36x60, just commenced, which we should judge would be his master-piece. It will be on exhibition when finished, and we forbear a description of it at this time. Mr. Lane, as a marine painter, ranks first in the country, and we are pleased to chronicle his success in producing such life-like pictures."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
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photo (historical)
Carting dried codfish
c.1890
Photograph
NOAA

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

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photo (historical)
Centennial Photographic Co. Philadelphia: International Exhibition, 1876
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Diorama of Gloucester fishing boats, which includes several models now in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Ship Models »

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object
Fish basket
maker unknown
early 20th century
Wood, wicker, cordage
19 1/2 x 23 in.
Cape Ann Museum (2089-3 G/O EARR)

Used at wharfside for carrying fish and small fishing gear.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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illustration
Gill nets deployed
1883
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

Also filed under: Gill Netting »

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illustration
Gloucester Town Seal
Addison Center
designed 1872
1873 Gloucester City Directory (1)

"The design is very pretty and appropriate . . .In the centre of the seal is a representation of a fishing schooner anchored on the banks, copied from a picture painted by that talented artist, the late Mr. Fitz H. Lane." (2)

References:

1. Gloucester City Directory. (Gloucester, MA: Sampson, Davenport, & Co., 1873), front page.

2. "The Town Seal": designed by Capt. Addison Center," Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser, February 9, 1872. 

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photo (historical)
Gloucester wharf
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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photo (current)
Killick (anchor)
19th century
Stone, oak wood and twine
Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum, gift of Jack Lawson (1310)

A type of anchor used in dory fishing.

Image: Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum
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illustration
Landing cod at a fish pier
H. W. Elliott
1883
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

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photo (historical)
Mr. Parsons with a Dip Net
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Image: Photo courtesy Cape Ann Museum
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model
Shadow box model of Burnham Marine Railway
Erik Ronnberg
1997
Wood, cordage, acrylic paste, metal
~40 in. x 30 in.
Erik Ronnberg

Model shows mast of fishing vessel being unstepped.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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illustration
The gill net cod fishery
H. W. Elliott and Capt. Joseph W. Collins
1887
In G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office)

See pl. 45.

Underrunning cod gill-nets in Ipswich Bay, Mass. 

Also filed under: Gill Netting »

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photo (historical)
untitled
Martha H. Harvey
1890s
Image: Photo courtesy Cape Ann Museum
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photo (historical)
Weighing Up the Catch, Gloucester, Mass.
Unknown
New York Public Library

Also filed under: Drying Fish »

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photo (historical)
[Main Street Fish Market]
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View shows Main Street Fish Market, Gloucester, Mass.

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Exhibition History

No known exhibitions.

Published References

No known published references.

Related historical materials

Cape Ann Locales
Vessel Types
Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
Citation: "Near Reef of Norman's Woe, 1850s (inv. 55)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=55 (accessed August 14, 2022).
Record last updated January 28, 2016. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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