Lumber Schooners at Evening on Penobscot Bay, 1863
Fitz Henry Lane
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Hatch, Sr.
oil on canvas
Despite its meticulous draftsmanship and precise detail, Fitz Henry Lane's work is far more than a simple inventory of harbor activity. The carefully rendered vessels remain secondary to the vast expanse of sky, where shimmering light creates a tranquil, idyllic mood. Lane's rarefied landscapes epitomize man's harmonious union with the natural world. Some scholars have used the term "luminism" to describe the artist's subtle use of light and atmospheric effects to convey nature's intangible spirit. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the foremost exponent of American transcendentalism, believed that poets and painters should serve as conduits through which the experience of nature might be transmitted directly to their audience.