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Fitz Henry Lane’s “Fishing Party” (1850)

By Michelle Linker, Marist ’18

Fitz Henry Lane (also known as Fitz Hugh Lane) was born on December 19, 1804 in Gloucester, Massachusetts and died in his home there on August 13, 1865. He was born as Nathaniel Lane and when he was 27, he changed his name to Fitz Henry Lane for unknown reasons. During the early 20th century, there was confusion about what his true middle name was, with art historians incorrectly identifying him with the middle name Hugh instead of Henry.[i]

As a young child, Lane lost use of his legs, thought to have been caused by eating a poisonous fruit or possibly polio.[ii] This would force him to use crutches for the rest of his life.  He began studying printmaking under William S. Pendleton at Pendleton’s Lithography, until 1837, when he moved to work at a publishing firm.[iii] Yet the skills he was learning allowed him to open his own publishing firm in 1844. Around this time, he began doing oil paintings of seascapes and harbors. Perhaps it was this building passion for developing his art that inspired him to move back to Gloucester to build himself a studio and focus primarily on painting after only four years with his own print company.

His time at Pendleton’s Lithography trained him formally in art. His experience in printmaking familiarized him with tonal gradation in painting.[iv]  Lane would spend the rest of his life traveling around the Gloucester coastline as well as other US ports, such as Boston, Maine, and New York through the 1850s and 1860s.[v] Lane’s style evolved into what, in the 20th century, came to be referred to as luminism, and his usage of this style along with painting horizontal landscapes would categorize him as a Hudson River Valley School artist by art historians. He particularly liked to paint scenery of the coasts and the ocean.


Fishing Party (1850) Oil on canvas. 19 5/8 x 30 1/4 in. (49.8 x 76.8 cm) Signed and dated lower right: F H Lane 1850., 

Fishing Party (1850) is an oil on canvas painting by Lane, depicting a moonlight night in Indian Bar Cove in Brooksville, Maine.[vi] Lane had also used this scenery in a previous painting, View of Indian Bar Cove, Brooksville, Maine(1850), showing the cove during the late afternoon as the sun is beginning to set in contrast to the deep, cool colors of the night used here.[vii] Something rare about this painting in comparison to Lane’s other pieces is the night setting the sentimentalism, and the inclusion of people gathering in a social setting, as most of his works were much more formal and serene, portraying ships in a bay as a storm is approaching or an early harbor morning. Despite the individuality of this piece from Lane’s other works, it portrays characteristics such as the use of nautical and horizontal scenery, tranquility, luminism in the reflection of light on the clouds and the water from the moon and the bonfire, and particular detail to the surface of the sea.

Out of all of Lane’s paintings I viewed, this piece stood out the most from his usual paintings. Lane and many artists at the time did not depict night scenes, as they were usually more difficult to paint. However, I usually prefer the darker colors of nighttime scenery, and his usage of luminism with the moon and the bonfire give the painting a relaxing warmth. Another aspect of this painting that stood out to me (although he uses it in many of his other works) is the vantage point from the water instead of the shoreline, which makes the viewer feel as though they are floating on a ship within the cove witnessing it themselves. Lane’s greatest talent is in the way he places you into the painting and conveys emotions through his tonality and lighting. When looking at Fishing Party you can feel the atmosphere of the setting: the leisurely attitude of the people, the summer air, the gentle heat of the bonfire, and the calmness of the sea under the moonlight.

*This an other images available at:


Blumberg, Naomi. Britannica Academic, s.v. Fitz Henry Lane, Accessed October 10, 2017,

Holdsworth, Sam. Fishing Party (1850) Commentary. Accessed October 10, 2017.

[i] Blumberg, Naomi. Britannica Academic, s.v. Fitz Henry Lane, Accessed October 10, 2017,

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Holdsworth, Sam. Fishing Party (1850) Commentary. Accessed October 10, 2017.

[vii] Ibid.

David Wagner, painter of the W3R, honored by France

david-wagnerDavid R. Wagner, a lifelong resident of Scotland, Connecticut, attended the Black Hills Teachers College and the University of Connecticut and received a degree in history from Eastern Connecticut State College. A self-taught and versatile artist, Mr. Wagner’s media include
acrylic on canvas paintings and pen and ink illustrations. His subjects include portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, Native American scenes, and representations of historical events, most notably his historical series depicting the activities of the French and Continental Armies during the American Revolution and a collection of 102 paintings depicting
the history of the Eastern Woodland peoples, commissioned by the Mohegan Tribe in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route collection covers all nine states and the District of Columbia traversed by the armies of Generals Washington and Rochambeau during their campaigns and numbers well over 100

The 77-year-old Wagner is also the recipient of the National Order of Merit from France for his series titled, “The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.”


The Institute has a number of Mr. Wagner’s paintings in its Bumpus Collection. We purchased them in order to promote the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail (W3R) and to interpret through art the importance of the contribution of the French Expèdition Particulière to America’s independence. A guide to this collection is available online.

The Autumn 2017 Issue of The Hudson River Valley Review

Out now!


It is hard to imagine anyone associating George Washington with un-American activities, but our lead article reveals that some expressed just such a sentiment toward the Washington Benevolent Society during the War of 1812. The cover article, on the Springside estate of Matthew Vassar, rounds out the noteworthy presentations from our 2015 symposium dedicated to the legacy of Andrew Jackson Downing, the founding figure of American landscape architecture characterized by art scholar Morrison Heckscher as “endlessly fascinating [and] charismatic.”  We want to thank Mr. Heckscher for his commentary throughout the symposium, and to recognize J. Winthrop Aldrich for his witty and inspired concluding remarks, especially his parting wisdom regarding historic preservation: “Be on the alert to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.”

What are the lessons and circumstances that shape an individual’s ambition and actions? The article on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Hyde Park upbringing and our adapted Cunneen-Hackett lecture on General Jacob L. Devers provide answers to this question as it relates to these two men who influenced international events and relations. And in addition to our regular Regional History Forums and book reviews, the issue introduces a new, occasional feature called “Personal Reflection.” This first installment focuses on the beginnings of the Hudson River Valley Greenway.

You can preview the issue and read the Regional History Forum, Book Reviews, and New and Noteworthy Books online at:

 The Hudson River Valley Review is available at select booksellers and museum gift-shops throughout the region for $15.00 each. Subscriptions are available through the website at:, or by calling 845-575-3052. A one-year subscription (two issues) is $20.00, save even more by subscribing for two years at $35.00.

The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College is the center for the study and promotion of the Hudson River Valley, providing information about the region’s history, culture, economy, and environment, and educational resources to teachers, students, and others through, public programming, and The Hudson River Valley Review. This biannual journal covers all aspects of regional history. All articles in The Hudson River Valley Review undergo peer analysis.

 Contact: Andrew Villani, (845) 575 – 3052,



Vol. 34, No.1, Autumn 2017

The Delinquency of George Holcomb: Civil Disobedience in the Upper Hudson River Valley, 1812,  Jennifer Hull Dorsey

Saving Springside: Preserving Andrew Jackson Downing’s Last Landscape, Harvey K. Flad

“Thy Servant Franklin”: How the Hudson River Valley Shaped the Faith of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Durahn Taylor

2016 Cunneen-Hackett Lecture

From the Hudson to the Rhine: The Life and Service of General Jacob L. Devers,  James Scott Wheeler

Personal Reflection

A Hudson River Valley Greenway,  Barnabas McHenry

Regional History Forum

Beverwyck Manor, Charles Semowich

Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh, New York: Then and Now, Bernadette J. Hogan

Plus: Book Reviews and New and Noteworthy titles received