Davis was Second Master on Commander Crozier's Terror and a number of his drawings (probably the first ever of the Antarctic continent) were used by Ross to illustrate his official account of the voyage published in two volumes in London in 1847.
James Clark Ross had reached the northern magnetic Pole in 1831 and was charged by the Government, following the recommendation of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society, to lead an expedition to investigate terrestrial magnetism in the southern latitudes. The expedition was the first British exploration of the southern latitudes since Cook's skirting of the Antarctic circle in 1773-4 and the sealer Weddell's furthest south of 7415'S in 1823. Bellinghausen had probably been the first to sight the Antarctic continent in January 1820 and Dumont D'Urville then discovered Adelie Land and Claire Coast. Their work towards the discovery of an Antarctic landmass was consolidated by James Clark Ross who penetrated the pack ice in January 1841 sailing into the clear water of the unknown Ross Sea and sighting snow-covered land on 11 January, thereby becoming the first to discover a sea route to the continent. McCormick on the Erebus saw and named an active volcano (Mt. Erebus) and Ross was the first to see and chart the South Polar Barrier which he named Victoria Barrier and which was later named the Ross Ice Barrier. He made two further navigations of the Ross Sea and Wedell Sea before returning to England in 1843.
'Jan. 7. 1843...As we advanced to the southward, two high rugged bluff capes at a great distance appeared, bearing W.S.W. (true); the nearest of them I named, at the request of Captain Crozier, after his friend Captain Nicholas Lockyer, R.N.C.B. (Capt. Sir J.C. Ross, A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the southern and Antarctic Regions, during the years 1839-43, London, 1847, II, p.346).
For Davis's own account see his A Letter from the Antarctic, London, 1901 (illustrated with own sketches).
For further works by Davis on the voyage, see Christie's, 10 April 1997, lot 95 and 17 September, 1998, lot 178.