Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Fitz Hugh Lane is considered to be the foremost American marine artist of the nineteenth century. Despite such lofty standing it is interesting to note that he only had one serious student whose body of work greatly resembles that of his own. That student was Mary Blood Mellen, and her work was so similar to Lane's that her existence was not thought to be separate until John Wilmerding published Fitz Hugh Lane in 1971. In that book Wilmerding rediscovered an artist previously unknown or at the very least under appreciated. He wrote:

She was born in Sterling, Massachusetts and early became interested in painting. Her first training in art came from a boarding school instructor. When she married the Reverend C. W. Mellen, they moved to Gloucester, where he was the Universalist minister, and sometime during the 1850s she became Lane's pupil, both copying his works and attempting originals on her own. Occasionally Lane trusted her abilities to collaborate with her on a painting....

Some scholars have suggested that as Lane was stricken by declining health in the mid 1860s, numerous works signed by him and dated 1864 and 1865 (the year of his death) were actually finished by Mellen. An article in the November 1991 issue of The Magazine Antiques compared the work of the two artists, and established an even greater understanding of their stylistic similarities and differences.

Mellen’s paintings are found in important private collections including the Blood family as well as public collections, including the Cape Ann Historical Association, Gloucester, Massachusetts; and the Shelburne Museum, Vermont.