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October 1, 2013

Fitz Henry Lane painting reels in $1.3M

Almost 150 years after his death, the works of Gloucester artist Fitz Henry Lane continue to demand in high prices at auction.

At a recent Skinner Inc. auction, a Lane painting titled “Camden Mts. from the Graves” led the sale of American and European Works, bringing in $1,384,000. The total gross of the American and European works at the Sept. 20 auction in Boston was $3.2 million.

Lane (1804-1865), the son of a sailmaker, was drawn to art at an early age and made a living from his talents.

Skinner remains a leader in the sale of works by Lane. In 2004, the Skinner auction house sold a painting titled “Manchester Harbor” for $5.5 million, which still holds the world record for the highest price realized for the artist at auction. That painting measures 24 x 36 inches, larger than the recent sale of the Maine scene, which is 13 x 22 inches.

Robin Starr, Skinner’s vice president and director of American & European Works of Art, said this latest painting is an “exquisite” example of the Gloucester artist’s work.

“It has the wonderful stillness and luminous quality one expects in a Lane,” Starr said. “We rarely see new works by the artist come up for auction, so this painting was an especially exciting offering.”

Starr agreed that prices for Lane paintings are holding up, like they do for any work of great quality.

“It has all the elements you expect to see in a strong Lane of his mature style. It has the wonderful sense of quiet in it,” she said. “You have everything from the golden-hour light catching the sails to the two figures you can see in the catboat in the foreground.”

The Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester houses the world’s largest collection of Lane paintings and drawings. The museum collection is composed of 40 paintings, a rare watercolor, 100 drawings and lithographic town views.

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