May 2, 2010
Lumber Schooners at Evening on Penobscot Bay
Fitz Henry Lane
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Hatch, Sr.
Despite its meticulous draftsmanship and precise detail, Lane’s work is far more than a simple inventory of harbor activity. The diminutive figures and carefully rendered vessels remain secondary to the vast expanse of sky, where shimmering light creates a tranquil, idyllic mood. Lane’s rarefied landscapes epitomize man’s harmonious union with the natural world.
Some scholars have used the term “luminism” to describe the artist’s subtle use of light and atmospheric effects to convey nature’s intangible spirit. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the foremost exponent of American Transcendentalism, believed that poets and painters should serve as conduits through which the experience of nature might be transmitted directly to their audience. With a similarly self-effacing artistic temperament, Lane minimized his autographic presence, using translucent glazes rather than heavily impastoed surfaces to underscore the scene’s pervasive stillness. His elegiac paintings differ profoundly from the more explosive exuberance expressed by Cole and Church, though he shared these artists’ reverence for nature and their belief in its inherent divinity.
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