Drawn from Nature & on Stone, the first-ever comprehensive exhibition focusing on 19th century American artist Fitz Henry Lane (1804–1865) as a printmaker will be on display at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, from October 7, 2017 through March 4, 2018.
Georgia Barnhill, Curator Emerita of the America Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., is serving as guest curator and worked closely with the Cape Ann Museum in organizing this special show. The exhibition, exhibition catalog and related programming are being organized in connection with Fitz Henry Lane Online, a catalogue raisonné and resource tool created by the Cape Ann Museum.
Fitz Henry Lane has long been recognized as one of America’s most important artists of the mid-19th century. Born in Gloucester, trained in lithography in Boston and, during the same time, exposed to the art world, by the late-1840s Lane was rapidly establishing himself as a well-known and sought-after painter. During the 1850s and into the 1860s, working from a studio overlooking Gloucester Harbor, Lane created an unknown number of canvases documenting and celebrating in amazing detail and beauty the world around him. His work included views not only of Gloucester and surrounding communities but also of Boston Harbor, coastal Maine, New York Harbor and other locales.
Today, the Cape Ann Museum, located just a few blocks away from Lane’s studio, proudly displays the world’s single largest collection of oil paintings by this esteemed American artist. While his canvases, exhibited in museums around the world, remain the work Lane is best known for, his life-long fascination with the art of lithography remains an important and central part of his career.
With the exhibition Drawn from Nature & on Stone, the Museum will investigate Lane’s lithographs, exploring the intersection of his work in oil and in print and his success at creating illustrations for sheet music, business cards and stationery, advertising materials and book illustrations. The exhibition will highlight a series of views Lane created of towns and cities throughout the region including Gloucester; Boston; Norwich, Connecticut; Castine, Maine; and Baltimore. In total, Lane is thought to have had a hand in the production of approximately 65 lithographs.
Drawn from Nature & on Stone will feature lithographs from the Cape Ann Museum’s own holdings and from collections throughout the region including the American Antiquarian Society, the Boston Athenaeum, The New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. The exhibition will offer scholars and lay people alike the opportunity to explore the intersection of Lane’s work as a printmaker and a painter, to learn more about the art of lithography and to consider the enduring effects image production has had on American culture since the early 19th century.
Programming related to Drawn from Nature & on Stone will explore Fitz Henry Lane’s life and career in detail and against the backdrop of 19th century printmaking culture in America. A symposium will be held on Saturday, October 28 at which six scholars working in fields related to the history of graphic arts will present their research to the public. Their presentations will explore such diverse topics as how race and race relations were portrayed in prints in the period following the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863; the role women artists and artisans played in printmaking during the 19th century; and how the rise of industrialization in towns such as Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, affected the careers of Fitz Henry Lane and other artists.
The symposium will be held in the Cape Ann Museum’s auditorium and will be a day-long event. Space is limited for the October 28 symposium and seats are available on a first come, first served basis. For additional programming related to this exhibition, please see the Museum’s website capeannmuseum.org.