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FITZ HENRY LANE

VIEW OF COFFIN'S BEACH, 1862

About the Artwork

View of Coffin’s Beach is an evocative late work by Fitz Henry Lane in which topography and anecdote are subordinated to the delicate beauty of dawn hues breaking over the land and water. The painting is based on a sketch Lane made from Two Penny Loaf, a rocky outcropping at the northern end of Coffin’s Beach on Ipswich Bay in Gloucester, Massachusetts (Coffin’s Beach from the Loaf, 1862, Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts). Conservators and curators at the MFA have concluded that Lane used a camera lucida, a mechanical drawing device, to capture the shoreline with great accuracy. While the finished painting replicates the outlines of the drawing, Lane widened the composition, accentuating the horizontal format and emphasizing the expansiveness of the landscape and a sense of emptiness. Lane’s subtle blending of the glowing pink-to-blue of the early-morning sky transforms a topographical study into one of his finest landscapes.

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