Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865)
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Fitz Henry Lane was an American painter and printmaker of a style that would later be called Luminism, for its use of pervasive light. Nathaniel Rogers Lane was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. His father was a sailmaker who died when Lane was only sixteen. A childhood disease (possibly polio, possibly the result of accidental poisoning) left Lane with partially crippled legs, and he walked on crutches for the rest of his life.
In 1831, for unknown reasons, he applied to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to change his name to Fitz Henry Lane. At some point in the early 20th century, Lane’s name became confused and was mistakenly believed to be Fitz Hugh Lane. He never signed any paintings as Fitz Hugh Lane, but twice signed as Fitz Henry Lane. Usually, his signature was F. H. Lane or F. H. L. From 1832 to 1847 he worked in Boston, before returning to Gloucester where he spent the rest of his life.
A contemporary of the Hudson River School, his best-known paintings depict maritime and nautical subjects, especially harbors and seaports. He had a good reputation in Gloucester and Boston during his lifetime, but fell into obscurity after his death. His work only began to receive greater recognition in the mid-20th century, when he was identified as one of the earliest pioneers of Luminism. His work now commands high prices; The Golden Rule was sold at auction for nearly $4 million in 2000. Still wondering about a 19th century American painting in your family collection? Contact us…it could be by Fitz Henry Lane.