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inv. 60
Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Brace's Rock; Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock; Island Off the Maine Coast
c. 1860
Oil on canvas
10 x 15 3/4 in. (25.4 x 40 cm)
Inscribed verso: Painted by Fitz H. Lane
Private collection, On loan to Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, since September 8, 2005

Supplementary Images

Viewpoint chart showing Lane's proposed location when making inv.60

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Coastal Scene »
Landscape Types:   Rocky Shoreline »
Vessel Types:   Sloop »   //   Yacht / Pleasure Craft »
Vessel Activites:   Beached »
Cape Ann Locales:   Brace's Rock / Cove »
Activities of People:   Hunting »   //   Tourism / Sightseeing / Picnicking »

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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Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries
John Wilmerding, Karen Quinn, Marcia Steele et al.
November 15, 2007
Unpublished report
Cape Ann Museum, Spanierman Gallery

Report on Scholars' Gathering in Association with the Exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries, organized by Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, in partnership with Spanierman Gallery, and curated by Professor John Wilmerding.

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Brace’s Rock protrudes off the eastern shore of Eastern Point at the mouth of Brace’s Cove, a small and deceptively peaceful cove with a lovely crescent beach set in the otherwise rockbound coast of the eastern arm of Gloucester Harbor, about a mile north of the harbor entrance. Belying the serenity of Lane’s paintings, Brace’s Rock, the cove and the ledge forming its northern arm was one of the worst sailing hazards on the entire New England coast. This shore was the scene of countless shipwrecks and loss of life due to its appearance from the sea as a false entrance to Gloucester Harbor. Infamously known as False Point in the days of sail, lookouts on board ship peering through bad weather would see traces of Gloucester harbor and ships at anchor over the low lying land and Niles Pond that separate Brace's Cove from the harbor. They would guide the vessel around what they thought was the end of Eastern Point into the harbor. A reef of rocks jutting across the entrance to Brace Cove brought innumerable ships to grief in this manner. Nowhere on Cape Ann is the illusion of the wild ocean seemingly tamed by a sheltering bay more tragically real than Brace’s Cove seen on a still summer afternoon as Lane has painted it.

In Lane’s day Brace's Cove was still a wild and untouched area of Cape Ann, part of the privately owned Nile’s Farm, and was unvisited by tourists and unsuited for maritime interests. Lane did his drawings from the coast just north of the cove, not from the beach where most would assume he did the drawing. Brace's Rock looks identical from either vantage point.

photo (current)
Brace's Rock, Brace's Cove, Gloucester
Image: Photo © 2011 Winston Boyer

Also filed under: Site Photographs »

photo (historical)
Brace's Rock, Eastern Point
From Gloucester Picturesque, published by Charles D. Brown.
photo (historical)
Schooner wrecked off Brace's Rock
c. 1800
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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Cape Ann Locales: Davis' Neck

Davis’ Neck, which lies between Lanesville and Annisquam, marks the western entrance to Hodgkins Cove. Ipswich Bay was a major stop along the Atlantic Flyway for migratory waterfowl, and this part of Cape Ann’s coastline provided rest and nourishment for many species.

Chart of Ipswich Bay with Davis Neck inset
US Coast Survey preliminary chart of Ipswich Bay, 1855

Also filed under: Annisquam River »

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"Party boat" is a colloquial term for any kind of small craft adapted or used for taking guests (customarily for hire) on sightseeing trips or fishing for pleasure. (1) The term survives to this day on Cape Ann and other places for vessels engaged in the same activities. (2) In Lane's time, party boating was a calling of opportunity, and a fisherman's boat might be used in season - regularly or occasionally - to take "rusticators" fishing. Likewise, a boat used for its owner's own pleasure might be hired to take sightseers sailing for an afternoon. The latter use is seen in Lane's 1844 view of Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck (see the yawl-rigged sailboat in the foreground of Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14)).

By the early 1850s, summer visitor activity, encouraged by the building of the Pavilion Hotel on Gloucester's waterfront, led to increased pleasure boating activity, if Lane's painting Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) of Pavilion Beach and Sidney Mason's hotel is any indication. (3) Lane's Gloucester Harbor scenes from this decade show a number of pleasure craft suitable for taking passengers for hire (see Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester, Early 1850s (inv. 45), Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts, c.1860 (inv. 60), and View of Gloucester from "Brookbank," the Sawyer Homestead, c.1856 (inv. 95)). Small working craft suitable for this purpose are seen in The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38) (right foreground), View of Gloucester, 1859 (inv. 91) (foreground), and Watch House Point, 1860 (inv. 292) (right foreground). In View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), we see passengers boarding a small sloop-rigged boat hidden by the rocks at Duncan's Point (left middle ground).

In coastal waters south of Gloucester, a few of Lane's paintings offer pleasure craft as candidates for taking paying passengers. Phantom of Boston, c.1850s (inv. 574) depicts a cruising yawl "Phantom" of Boston, beached with hunting gear unloaded alongside while two of the crew await an approaching party in a rowing boat. The location is unidentified, but a possibility is the barrier beach around the marshes of Lynn, Massachusetts, which were once very popular hunting grounds for migrating waterfowl. A second candidate is a small sloop with a party of four on an evening sail off Halfway Rock in Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344) (far right).

Lane found similar uses of working watercraft in Maine, where the families of a small coastal community would travel by their workboats to a gathering place for a clambake or similar festive outing (see View of Indian Bar Cove, Brooksville, Maine, 1850 (inv. 61)). The artist became a "rusticator" himself when he, Joseph Stevens, and friends explored Mount Desert Island and vicinity in the "General Gates," a sloop-rigged Maine version of a New England Boat (View of Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains, from the Bay in Front of Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 177) and Castine Harbor and Town, 1851 (inv. 272)).

When Lane traveled to New Bedford in 1856 to observe and sketch a regatta held by the New York Yacht Club, he observed and sketched it while on board an unknown vessel near the starting and finishing line, formed by the race committee boat "Emblem" and her yawl-boat.

Close by was a small party boat with observers on board, probably a fishing sloop, given its work-a-day looks. In the ensuing year, Lane painted four detailed views of this race, the party boat appearing in New York Yacht Club Regatta (1), 1856 (inv. 66) (right foreground); New York Yacht Club Regatta (2), 1856 (inv. 270) (right margin); New York Yacht Club Regatta (3), After 1856 (inv. 396) (center); and New York Yacht Club Regatta (4), 1857 (inv. 397) (left foreground). (4)

– Erik Ronnberg


1. M. H. Parry and others, Aak to Zumbra: A Dictionary of the World's Watercraft (Newport News, VA: The Mariners' Museum, 2000), 436.

2. Ibid.

3. Proctor's Able Sheet (a Gloucester newspaper), January 1857: "Gloucester House reopened—refitted—boats always ready to take parties cruising or fishing..." 

4. John Wilmerding, Fitz Henry Lane, 2nd ed. (Cape Ann, MA: Cape Ann Historical Association, 2005), 52–54. Lane's 1852 cruise in the Mount Desert region in the sloop "Superior" was reprinted as an appendix to Wilmerding's essay in Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988), 125–26.

Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
34 x 45 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy),1948 (1289.1a)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum
The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., deposited by the Collection of Addison Gilbert Hospital, 1978 (DEP. 201)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Cape Ann Museum

Also filed under: Ten Pound Island »

1846 Gloucester Telegraph 8.19.1846
Ad in Gloucester Telegraph


"Persons desirous of enjoying a SAILING or FISHING EXCURSION, are informed that the subscriber will be in readiness with the Boat EUREKA, to attend to all who may favor him with their patronage. JOHN J. FERSON"

1857 Gloucester Advertiser, 9.15.1857, "Gloucester House"
Ad for Gloucester House
Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

See p. 4, column 2.

Image: Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society
View of Gloucester Harbor
Fitz H. Lane
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
27 x 41 in.
Frame: 41 5/8 x 55 3/8 in.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Museum Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund (62.32)

Detail of party boat.

Image: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
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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 (inv. 295)). 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


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.

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.

Bermudian sloop
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.

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 »

Scale model of stone sloop "Albert Baldwin"
William Niemi
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.

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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Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities: Bird Hunting

Bird hunting was an activity undertaken for both pleasure and by fishermen to protect the drying fish flakes and their nets. During the nesting seasons, the breeding grounds were systematically raided and the absence of seagulls in Lane's harbor scenes can be attributed to the fact that the population of sea birds was controlled. In addition, watchmen with fowling pieces protected the fish flakes.

Related tables: Drying Fish »
1852 Journal of John M. Stevens
John M. Stevens
September 1–November 18, 1852
Personal journal
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Box 2, F1 (A00772)

John Stevens was the younger brother of Joseph Stevens, and acquainted with Lane, spending time with him in Gloucester and at the family home in Castine. His journal, quoted below, includes reference to hunting plover and teal, school, sailing, local events. Mentions Castine mill, lighthouse, and block house.

"Friday [September] 17th: Cloudy all day. Wind N. blowing quite hard. A British Rig loaded with salt from Liverpool came into port last night. She run way up by the Monument and got aground. They kedged her off this P.M. and came down. She came in with one of these old English charts as her guide. They have the town set down on the Brooksville side, two miles + three quarters from the lighthouse."

"Wednesday [September] 22. . .Went down to the Indians Camp on the Back Cove. There were five camps of them." 

Visits Gloucester from Castine:

"Wednesday [October] 27th. . .Left for Gloucester [from Boston] at 5 o'clock this P.M. arrived there safe + sound at 6 1/2 o'clock; went right down to the store and saw Joe. We then went up to his house and got supper.

"Thursday [October] 28th. At. Gloucester. Pleasant day. Went down to the "Cut" a gunning this morning before breakfast but saw no birds. Went out in the harbor this forenoon alone, had a fine sail but couldn't get a chance at any birds. Went out again this P.M. got down to East Point Light and the wind died all away, so I had to scull home."

"Friday 29th. Very pleasant day, went out in the harbor this morning with Joe. Took a walk this A.M. with "Lina", called on Mr. Lane + Doct. Hildreth. Joe + I went out in the harbor this P.M. I fired at some birds several times, but didn't get any. . . ."


Provenance (Information known to date; research ongoing.)

Private collection, Boston, c.1945
Private collection, 1974

Exhibition History

1974–75 Portland Museum of Art: Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, Sea and Sail, Island Off the Maine Coast.
1980 Whitney Museum: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, 19th Century Landscape Painting and the American Site, Island Off the Maine Coast.
2007 Cape Ann Museum: Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Mysteries of Fitz Henry Lane, no. 46, ill., p. 100.

Published References

Wilmerding 1964: Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865: American Marine Painter, p. 47, Brace's Rock.
Wilmerding 2007: "Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen," p. 176, Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock.
Wilmerding 2007b: Report on scholars' gathering in association with the exhibition Fitz Henry Lane & Mary Blood Mellen: Old Mysteries and New Discoveries. ⇒ includes text
Citation: "Coming Ashore near Brace's Rock, Gloucester, Massachusetts, c. 1860 (inv. 60)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed July 24, 2024).
Record last updated August 10, 2016. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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