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Mary Blood Mellen Exhibition at Cape Ann Museum

 Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886), Field Beach, Stage Fort Park, c. 1850s
Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886), Field Beach, Stage Fort Park, c. 1850s, Oil on canvas. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. Gift of Mrs. Preston Dise, 1964 [#1964].

Although often thought of in terms of her mentor, Fitz Henry Lane, Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886) was a talented and accomplished artist in her own right who commands a place in the history of art on Cape Ann. To better understand Mellen and her artistic skills, the Cape Ann Museum is pleased to offer this special exhibition of her work, on view in the center of the Lane Gallery during Jan. 13, 2023 – April 2, 2023.

The details regarding Mary Blood Mellen’s life are well documented. Born in 1819, she grew up in central Massachusetts and in 1840, married Rev. Charles W. Mellen, a Universalist minister. Fifteen years later, Charles Mellen’s brother, who was also a minister, was called to serve at Gloucester’s First Universalist Church. It was probably because of that posting that Mary Blood Mellen visited Gloucester and established a friendship with Fitz Henry Lane. Information gleaned from a variety of sources tells us that Mellen quickly became Lane’s student and collaborator; indeed, Lane gave her access to his preliminary drawings and allowed her to assist him on at least one of his canvases. Stylistic examination of numerous Lane paintings in the Cape Ann Museum’s collection suggests that she may have had a hand in many of them.

As additional works by Mellen come to light, it is possible that more will be learned about her artistic career. It is equally possible, however, that we may never know the details of Lane and Mellen’s relationship and their artistic collaboration.

Learn more in an exhibition catalogue found here.

Citation: "Mary Blood Mellen Exhibition at Cape Ann Museum." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed April 24, 2024).
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