Sir John Franklin (1786-1847)
After Stephen PEARCE. [The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin. London: published by the Printseller's Association, circa 1851]. Steel-engraving with mezzotint and roulette work, visible area: 56 x 73.5cm. (image area: 45.5 x 71.5cm.), on india paper, mounted, engraved facsimiles of signatures of subjects beneath. (Light surface damage to image, masking tape at outer margins.) 19th-century gilded composition frame, glazed.
A contemporary print taken from one of the most famous images connected with 19th-century arctic exploration: Stephen Pearce's original oil, a group portrait of ten members of the Council now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. The Arctic Council was founded in the mid-1830s as an advisory group to filter proposals for attempts on the North-West Passage. Members came and went, according to circumstances, but Sir William Edward Parry, Sir James Clark Ross, Sir Francis Beaufort, Sir George Back, Frederick William Beechey, Edward Joseph Bird, Sir Edward Sabine and Sir John Richardson are depicted in Pearce's group portrait as well as John Barrow Jnr. and William Baillie Hamilton, and in the paintings visible on the rear wall: Sir John Franklin, James Fitzjjames and Sir John Barrow himself. The huge influence that Lady Jane Franklin had on the protracted search for her husband is acknowledged in the two letters on the table from American supporters of her quest: one from Henry Grinnell, the second from Edwin de Haven, but both addressed to Lady Franklin.