Fitz Henry Lane (American, 1804-1865)
Camden Mts. from the Graves
Signed and dated "FH Lane 1862" l.r., titled, signed, dedicated, and inscribed "...F.
H. Lane to J.L. Stevens Jr./Gloucester 1862./A Souvenir of our excursion to Penobscot Bay, Septr. 1855." on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 13 x 22 in. (33.0 x 55.9 cm), framed.
Condition: Lined (with window to inscription), retouch, fine craquelure, minor abrasions along tacking edges.
Provenance: The artist to Joseph L. Stevens Jr., Gloucester, Massachusetts; [...], Quester Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut; private New Hampshire collection.
N.B. Lane first visited Maine in 1848 when he was invited by his close friend from Gloucester, Joseph Lowe Stevens, Jr. (1823-1908), to visit his family's home. (1) A friendship blossomed between Lane and Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lowe Stevens, Sr. In the 1850s Lane was invited several summers to stay at the "Old Homestead," as the Stevens residence was known, in Castine. The home offered direct access to the Penobscot Bay, and Stevens, Jr., would row or sail Lane to various locations to make preparatory sketches for his oils. Lane continued to visit this region through 1863, where he "would paint many pictures of the vicinity as well as small oils of the family house and views done especially for presentation to the Stevens family." (2)
By 1855, Lane had made three well-documented cruising trips of the Penobscot Bay region--one in 1850, 1851, and 1852. Most of his sketches were made "while sailing leisurely, conditions permitting, or at anchor with a favorable prospect before him," sometimes partway up the mast for an elevated view, while others were from the deck of a steamer either arriving or departing Rockland. (3) Based on the dedication on the reverse, it can be surmised that the present work originates from sketches during the first leg of his trip in September 1855 around the southern shores of Penobscot Bay, and completed in his Gloucester studio in 1862.
Lane's 1855 excursion was his penultimate visit to Maine. Scholars have noted that the paintings completed in the years prior to his fourth and final visit in 1863, such as the present work, reflect his mature style and are distinguished by a sophisticated minimalist approach. John Wilmerding notes that "these later paintings especially tend to be more generalized in location and poignant in feeling, perhaps because they were more detached images made from memory" and Franklin Kelly notes "an increased refinement and elegance" whereby "gradually, he distilled the essentials from long-familiar subjects." (4). Kelly has speculated that this approach may have been partially motivated by nostalgia, as the lower Penobscot Bay shoreline was becoming less pristine and increasingly industrial in the 1860s. Lane's reference to the present work as a "souvenir" of his 1855 excursion supports this interpretation of his later work being rooted more in memory and emotion than faithful documentation.
A preparatory sketch for the painting is in the Cape Ann Museum collection, which is inscribed in pencil across the top "2 parts 2 parts, Camden Mountains from the Graves, Sketch made on our second day's cruise while going from Rockland to Camden, F.H.Lane del., From this he painted a picture for me as a generous souvenir of our excursion (1862) Sept. 1855 Lane Stevens Hooper." Inscribed (in red ink: upper left) 37."
The present work will be included in Fitz Henry Lane Online, the catalogue raisonné currently in preparation, and we wish to thank the Fitz Henry Lane Catalogue Raisonné Project, supported by the Cape Ann Museum, for their kind assistance.
1. Franklin Kelly, "Lane and Church in Maine," Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988), p. 130.
2. John Wilmerding, Fitz Henry Lane, the reprint of a 1971 book entitled Fitz Hugh Lane (Gloucester: Cape Ann Historical Association, 2005), p. 51.
3. John Wilmerding, "The Lure of Mount Desert and the Maine Coast," Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988), pp. 121-2.
4. Ibid. 122, 151.
C-shaped tear at center measuring approximately 3 1/2 in. length, one area of retouch to the u.l. quadrant measuring approximately 1 x 2 in.; fine scattered dots and dashes of retouch to all four quadrants, primarily to tacking edges, no additional condition issues to report.
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