Art Appreciation: American Painter Fitz Hugh Lane

Fitz Henry Lane was a 19th centry Gloucester artist painting in the Luminism style

Fitz Henry Lane was a 19th centry Gloucester artist painting in the Luminism style

Fitz Henry Lane (born Nathaniel Rogers Lane, also known as Fitz Hugh Lane) (19 December 1804 – 14 August 1865) was an American painter and printmaker. A painter of ships and coastal panoramas, Lane is most notable as a leading figure in American luminism, for its passive light. He illuminated his canvases with warm, glowing yellow and pink skies reflected in water. The resulting paintings project a shimmering density that expresses a profound serenity that is akin to transcendentalism.Owl’s Head, Penobscot Bay, Maine (1862; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) is a characteristic work.

Owl's Head, Penobscot Bay, Maine 1862 Oil on canvas, 40 x 66 cm Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Owl’s Head, Penobscot Bay, Maine
1862
Oil on canvas, 40 x 66 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston This idyllic harbor view is Lane’s best-known work.

The Island and Fort of Ten Pound, Gloucester 1847 Oil on canvas, 51 x 76 cm Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Lane's panoramic view of his native city is half-way between genre painting and landscape, and introduces us to the Luminist movement, a current within landscape painting which differed from the sentimentalism and grandiloquence of Cole's art and the work of the Hudson River painters. As its name indicates, Luminism was a way of painting landscape in terms of light and atmosphere, coupled with a highly polished and finished technique and a calm and peaceful view of the natural world.

The Island and Fort of Ten Pound, Gloucester
1847
Oil on canvas, 51 x 76 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Lane’s panoramic view of his native city is half-way between genre painting and landscape, and introduces us to the Luminist movement, a current within landscape painting which differed from the sentimentalism and grandiloquence of Cole’s art and the work of the Hudson River painters. As its name indicates, Luminism was a way of painting landscape in terms of light and atmosphere, coupled with a highly polished and finished technique and a calm and peaceful view of the natural world.

Lane was born on December 19, 1804, in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Lane was christened Nathaniel Rogers Lane on March 17, 1805, and would remain known as such until he was 27. It was not until March 13, 1832 that the state of Massachusetts would officially grant Lane’s formal request (made in a letter dated December 26, 1831) to change his name from Nathaniel Rogers to Fitz Henry Lane. At the age of 2, he contracted polio, which left his legs paralyzed for life. Lane lived in his severe, granite gabled house, built in 1849, until he died in 1865. From the top-floor studio, he often painted the harbor at sunset. The Cape Ann Historical Museum in Gloucester has the world’s largest collection of Lane’s paintings, which you should definitely go see, if you haven’t yet.

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