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Fitz Henry Lane Painting in Searsport Museum

By The Editors

This painting by Fitz Henry Lane is now in the Penobscot Marine Museum collection.

A marine treasure was given to the Penobscot Marine Museum: a painting by noted marine artist Fitz Henry Lane of a schooner carrying lumber from Maine to Massachusetts. The work has been in the same family since it was painted in 1850. It was bought by Edward Dyer Peters (1785-1856), whose family began in the lumber business in Ellsworth before starting a lumber wholesale business in Boston. The painting was donated by his descendants.

In the 18th century the lumber trade between Maine and Massachusetts was disorganized. Lumber went south on speculation, fetching whatever the market paid when it arrived. Peters changed this. Born in Blue Hill, Maine, he was a partner in a lumber business in Ellsworth. That city’s lumber merchants sent Peters to Boston sometime about 1811, where he established a wholesale business that maintained an inventory and stabilized prices for Maine dealers.

This painting was likely a commission, with Peters wanting a good painting of the modest lumber schooners of the time, the ships that made his living. The schooner is off what is probably Gloucester’s Eastern Point Light. It looks like she has just tacked to a course for Boston with her topsail still needing to be angled around to catch the fresh westerly wind. Lumber is piled high on her deck. The crew works the vessel from the top of the pile and the helmsman relies on a lookout to see forward.

For the last 165 years or so the painting has been in the Peters family. Its donor wanted to share it with the people of Maine. The painting is now on display at the Penobscot Marine Museum.