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Fitz Henry Lane was born Nathaniel Rogers Lane in the fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts on December 18, 1804; in 1831 he legally changed his first and middle names, becoming Fitz Henry Lane. Paralyzed as a young child, probably by infantile polio, Lane was obliged to use crutches. He learned the rudiments of drawing and sketching while in his teens and in 1832 worked briefly with a lithographic firm in Gloucester. Later that year he moved to Boston for formal training and an apprenticeship with William S. Pendleton, owner of the city's most important lithographic firm. Lane remained with Pendleton until 1837, producing illustrations for sheet music and scenic views.