George Edward Marston (1882-1940)
S.Y. Endurance ice-bound in the Weddell Sea, 1915
oil on canvas, unframed
14 x 20in. (35.6 x 50.8cm.)
The Endurance was trapped by ice in the Weddell Sea on 20 January 1915 just sixty miles short of her destination at Vahsel Bay and remained trapped, drifting slowly northwards for one thousand miles with the ice, until it was crushed on 27 October. For much of the winter, the ship became a shore station with the dogs kennelled in 'dogloos' on the surrounding ice along with a variety of stores and cargo, and to pass the time, sledging teams led by Wild, McIlroy, Hurley, Macklin, Crean and Marston went out onto the ice: 'The ice-sheet, stretching away a thousand miles to the north, was always changing... The vessel itself was the connecting link between the vast lifeless solitudes of the south and the living humanity of the north. It was a symbol to all of us, but to me it had a further interest, for, as a factor in any pictorial composition, it was invaluable... by daylight, the skies were a sublime spectacle. At times the dome of heaven was iridescent, like a lustrous shell in which the mist-veiled sun reposed like a dazzling pearl.' (F. Hurley, Shackleton's Argonauts, Sydney, 1948, pp. 45-6).