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October 1, 2013

Fitz Henry Lane painting reels in $1.3M


Lane is often described as a Luminist painter for the way he captured the effects of light on canvas. He was known for his marine paintings, which commonly feature Cape Ann seascapes.

As a young man, Lane moved to Boston where he worked as an apprentice to a Boston lithographer. Later on in his career, he moved back to Gloucester and focused on his painting.

Tim Barringer, a British art historian at Yale, and John Wilmerding, a Lane scholar and professor in American Art Emeritus at Princeton, both lectured at Gloucester City Hall in 2007 during a lecture series about the artist.

Barringer, who wrote of Lane during a major exhibition in London in 2002, noted that British critics known for their harsh judgments of American artists also wrote highly of the work of Gloucester’s native son.

“What was striking,” wrote Barringer, “was that the British critics most admired Lane because of the intimacy and simplicity of his work compared to the work of his American contemporaries, who they called showmen. Lane’s work spoke to a modern audience directly.”

Kathy Wong, a Skinner specialist in American and European artworks, said the painting is based both from a preparatory sketch (housed in the Cape Ann Museum collection) as well as Lane’s memory of the second day on his cruise from Rockland to Camden, Maine, that he took with Joseph Lowe Stevens, Jr. in September 1855.

Wong noted that this painting was only one of four well-documented trips to Maine, and “Camden Mts. from the Graves” is only one of several works depicting Maine that have been offered at auction within the last two decades.

The painting was signed and dated “FH Lane 1862.” It was inscribed on the reverse side that it was from: “H. Lane to J.L. Stevens Jr./Gloucester 1862./A Souvenir of our excursion to Penobscot Bay, Septr. 1855.”

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