Fitz Hugh Lane was an American printmaker and painter. He painted with a style that would lather be known as Luminism, similar to the Hudson River School, often depicting land or seascapes with keen attention to depicting light with all its nuances. Lane is responsible for creating some of the most striking seascapes of the period.
Nathaniel Rogers Lane, who became known as Fitz Hugh Lane, was born in December 1804, in the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Lane’s childhood was mostly on Gloucester Harbor, since his father was a sailmaker, thus exposing Lane to a maritime life, which is possibly an essential element that influenced his themes as an artist.
It is often thought that Lane would not pursue his career as an artist; the speculation is that he would instead follow a seafaring career. However, Lane had a kind of paralysis at the age of only 18 months, which would be with him throughout his life. The reason his of his disease is unclear, but it’s supposed to be the ingestion of a poisonous weed, like nightshade.
Around his early 30s, after a brief time in shoemaking, Lane decided to move to Boston to learn how to paint and draw in his intentions to become a marine artist. His first job in Boston, as a lithographer at Pendleton’s Lithography, allowed Lane to learn and refine his work. He worked here between 1832 to 1847. During this period, he produced many high-quality, marine-themed paintings.
During his time in Boston, Lane periodically visited Gloucester, but in 1848 he returned permanently, and in the following year began the building where would be his future home and studio. Lane himself was responsible for the design and overseeing the execution of the project, this would be his home till his death, in 1865, and is today a relevant historical building in Massachusetts.
Many aspects of Lane’s life are not very well documented. Probably, his interest and study material on marine subjects might be by his father’s sailmaking books, although his first formal training was in Boston.
Fitz Hugh Lane died in his hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts, in August 1865, he was 60 years old.
Although during his lifetime, the artist enjoyed fame and was highly celebrated as the foremost marine painter of his time, Lane’s artworks became less fashionable and fell into obscurity, mainly because of the rise of the French Impressionism. His artwork was brought back to light during the 1930s.