Fitz Hugh Lane's Boston Harbor is a typical early work depicting the boats in Boston Harbor, a subject matter which Lane would continue to paint throughout the next decade. The paintings are important historically, in that Lane has captured on canvas Massachusett's maritime dominance before the Civil War.
Lane's Boston paintings, according to John Wilmerding, "consolidate the aesthetics of luminism with the high moment that celebrates the ascendancy of the New England maritime tradition, the final chapter of the age of sail, in an exquisite and provocative confluence of history and style...These evocative images, so eloquent in their prophetic silence, depict a moment in time as if frozen, and evoke a mood of transcendental silence that is an important reflection of the attitude of the American imagination at mid-century." (Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, New York, 1988, p. 47)
Like many of Lane's early works, Boston Harbor bears the canvas stencil, 'O. Stearns Boston.'