View Of New Bedford. From the Fort near Fairhaven. artist, publisher.
The Earliest American View of New Bedford
New Bedford, Massachusetts.
[Boston, 1845]

View Of New Bedford. From the Fort near Fairhaven.

18 x 25 ¼ inches, Two-color lithograph finished with fine hand color of the period. Mounted on heavy stock, a few marginal losses & splits, bit of foxing, else very good.

Rare. A finely executed view of the great whaling port by the important American luminist, maritime artist, Fitz Hugh Lane. It is the earliest view of New Bedford listed by Reps. Depicted here is the New Bedford that Ishmael of Moby Dick, published in 1851, would have known.
Fitz Hugh Lane (1804-1865) was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and in the early part of his career was primarily a printmaker. He apprenticed with Pendleton’s Lithography in Boston from 1832 to 1847. However, this work lists Lane (unless it was a different Lane) along with Scott as the lithographic company involved. It appears that Lane’s career as a printmaker and painter ran in parallel to some extent, as he often produced lithographs from his own paintings. In time, the demand for his paintings was such that that he abandoned printmaking altogether. The somewhat unusual “credits” given for this work suggest the above pattern. Lane is listed as the “del.[ineator]” i.e. the artist of this work, but after a sketch by another maritime artist, Alban Jasper Conant. Then, as suggested above, Lane likely also performed the lithography.
Lane’s intimate acquaintance with the world of the waterfront is much in evidence in this work. The riggings, sail and hull shapes of the many and various vessels in the view are all realized with great precision. In fact, the terrestrial foreground seems a bit crude by comparison. Also a suggestion of the luminist painter to come can be seen in the partially careened vessel at right with its sensitive treatment of light and shadow. In the very center of the view is the steam ship, “Massachusetts,” suggesting that such vessels were still particularly noteworthy at the time. New Bedford’s crowded waterfront is also rendered in considerable detail.

* Reps 1552; not in Deak but cf. 546.


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