The Britannia Entering Boston Harbor

Artist Fitz Henry Lane (American, 1804–1865)


Framed: 45.1 x 57.8 x 2.5 cm (17 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 1 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on panel

On View

Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Gallery (Gallery 235)





The arrival of British steamship “Britannia” in Boston harbor in 1840 established a strong commercial link with Great Britain and made Boston the major American port for the transmission of mail and cargo to and from Europe. Steamships were familiar sights to Bostonians by this time, but it was a noteworthy event to see such an important vessel. Lane painted the steamship at least twice. In 1842 he depicted the ship foundering in rough seas (Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts). This view, however, probably was based on a small pencil sketch he made on the spot some years earlier (Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts). “Britannia” moves through Boston Harbor with a procession of sailing vessels and an American steamer behind; two rowboats filled with men salute the arriving ship.


The artist; with Vose Galleries, by 1980; sold by Vose to Norma and Roger Alfred Saunders, 1980; gift of Saunders' to MFA. (Accession Date: September 20, 2000)

Credit Line

Gift of Norma and Roger Alfred Saunders