Captain Markham's most northerly encampment
In 1875 a Royal Naval North Pole expedition set off under the command of George Nares. His ships 'Alert' and 'Discovery' used the route north through Smith Sound pioneered by American explorers Kane and Hall. 'Alert' wintered at record latitude on the north coast of Ellesmere Island. Three sledge parties set out the following spring: Pelham Aldrich headed west along the coast, Lewis Beaumont from 'Discovery' proceeded to the north coast of Greenland, and Albert Markham left for the Pole. Markham's man-hauled party reached the furthest point north achieved so far before being forced to turn back. The scene of the spectacular encampment is set underneath the darkness of a cloudy arctic sky and amongst blocks of ice in front of a vast frozen landscape. A couple of figures, whose footprints are visible in the snow, are keeping close to two tents. Strong lighting from the left and a marked formal distinction between the fore- and middleground give the composition the character of a stage-set, although the painter emphasizes the aspect of documentation with detailed dress and flags.
Richard Brydges Beechey
- Image reference: BHC0640
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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