Cape Ann Beacon: Museum reinstalls Fitz Henry Lane exhibit

November 6, 2020

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The Cape Ann Museum is home to a collection of works by the Gloucester-born maritime artist Fitz Henry Lane.

In recent months, the museum has re-installed its Lane Gallery to better showcase new and ongoing scholarship into the artist’s work and to create a dedicated space within the large, multi-sectioned gallery for regularly changing exhibits related to Fitz Henry Lane.

The gallery’s new look aims to align more fully with “Fitz Henry Lane Online,” a free digital catalogue raisonné created in association with the Cape Ann Museum, as well as to make a strong connection to the museum’s new campus, the Cape Ann Museum Green, where Lane’s 1863 paintings of the Babson-Alling and White-Ellery houses and the surrounding landscape were done.

“Although Lane’s life ended 155 years ago, research into his career and his artistic accomplishments continues today, and the Cape Ann Museum is pleased to keep abreast of that ongoing work and make contributions to the effort when we can,” said Museum Curator Martha Oaks.

Since the online catalogue was initiated in 2012, Oaks said Lane’s life and artistic career have been examined from many new and exciting perspectives. Research has been done into his work as a printmaker, his association with fellow artist Mary Blood Mellen has been explored in depth, infrared analysis has been used to better understand his working process and new works attributed to Lane have been uncovered.

Insights from the museum’s 2017 exhibition, “Drawn from Nature and On Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane” are now featured in the Lane Gallery. Additional examples of Lane’s lithographic works have been put on exhibition, elevating that section of the gallery to reflect the importance of printmaking to Lane throughout his career.

Three major oil paintings from the Samuel E. Sawyer Collection have also been put on display, including a view of Sawyer’s homestead, Brookbank. And a section of the gallery has been devoted to exploring the history of Gloucester’s Town Green through Lane’s works, archival materials and decorative arts from the museum’s permanent collection.

“The Cape Ann Museum is extraordinarily fortunate to have such a wealth of works by Fitz Henry Lane,” said Oaks. “It is a collection of great local importance that elevates the Museum into the national spotlight.”

Oliver Barker, the museum’s director, said that the re-designed Lane Gallery makes a clear and direct connection to the new campus on Poplar Street in Gloucester, including period maps as well preparatory drawings by Lane for guidance and inspiration.

“We looked to Lane and his paintings as a guide to the new CAM Green grounds, working with local artisans in re-creating the defining fieldstone walls and wooden gates that Lane captured in his paintings of this site,” said Barker. “The campus offers expansive, inspiring views bridging the historic structures with a new contemporary Janet and Willian Ellery James Center for artists to find new ways of interpretation. It’s an exciting and pivotal time for the museum.”

The nearly four-acre CAM Green campus is home to the White Ellery House, an adjacent barn and the Babson-Alling House, all of which were made in the 1700′s. A new 12,000-square foot contemporary archival collections storage and public exhibition space there is called the Janet and William Ellery James Center and includes 2,000 square feet of flexible community programming galleries designed to reach broader audiences.


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