Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams to Auction Sir George Back Painting of Canadian Arctic

One of the highlights of The Marine Sale at Bonhams will be an exciting and previously unknown watercolour of ‘H.M.S. Terror and one of her boats off a spectacular iceberg, apparently in the Davis Strait, between Canada and Greenland.’ This remarkable work is estimated to sell for £10,000-15,000 when it is offered for auction on 13th September 2011, at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London.

In 1818 Admiral Sir George Back embarked on what is now regarded as the very first Canadian Arctic Expedition. Their ambitious goals were to locate the fabled ‘North West Passage’ and to reach the North Pole that same year. The voyage was unsuccessful due to severe gales and heavy pack ice, but between 1819-22 Back sailed on another expedition exploring the Canadian Arctic coast of North America where he was responsible for all the surveying and chart-making. Several promotions came over the following years and after mapping Montreal Island Back was not only promoted Captain – by Order in Council, an honour which no other officer in the navy had received except King William IV – but additionally had the satisfaction of having the Great Fish River renamed in his honour. After returning home he became a distinguished President of the Royal Geographical Society in 1856 and received his final promotion to Rear-Admiral in 1857.

Alastair Laird of Bonhams Marine Paintings Department, comments, “This is a fascinating painting by an explorer whose names ranks alongside pioneer explorers such as Sir John Franklin and John Ross. After extensive research through Back’s diaries we think it is likely that it was painted in 1836, when sailing down the Davis Straits he noted in his diary for 29th July, ‘we observed an enormous berg, the perpendicular face of which was not less than 300 feet high, and other smaller bergs…in other directions…[a ship’s boat] was sent to procure fresh water from the pools formed on the surface of the…ice.'”

Also included in the sale are yacht racing scenes, ship’s portraits, naval battles and views of London.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *