A collection of daguerreotype portrait photographs showcasing renowned Arctic explorers captured shortly before the tragic Franklin expedition will be auctioned in London next month.
The intriguing images feature Captain Francis Crozier and thirteen other esteemed senior officers before they embarked on their fateful voyage to explore the Arctic. The Beard Studio took the images on board the HMS Erebus in May of 1845 at the request of Lady Jane Franklin.
Two images are believed to be the only ones ever taken of two men, Captain Crozier, commander of the HMS Terror, and Robert Sargent, a mate serving aboard the HMS Erebus.
The Franklin expedition, spearheaded by Sir John Franklin, aimed to chart the Northwest Passage through the icy expanse of the Canadian Arctic. The venture became one of maritime history’s most baffling mysteries as the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror vanished without a trace during the summer of 1845.
These photographs were thought to have been lost for many years. However, they turned up in a private family collection.
Sotheby’s Auction House will oversee the bidding for the complete set of these 14 portraits. Sotheby’s estimates that the forthcoming auction will garner an impressive sum, projected to range between £150,000 and £200,000.
“These images are absolutely astonishing, the clarity is wonderful,” lauds Michael Smith, a dedicated biographer of Captain Crozier.
The tragic story of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror unfolds as they become trapped in ice floes in September 1846.
A note was later found on King William Island by explorers in 1859, unveiling the demise of Sir John Franklin on June 11, 1847. After the ships were stuck, Captain Crozier assumed responsibility for the remaining 105 members of the mission, a valiant effort even though they all ultimately perished in the unforgiving Arctic landscape, even after resorting to cannibalism.
The HMS Terror and HMS Erebus weren’t found until 2014 and 2016, respectively. Researchers hope that one day they may find the daguerreotype camera that was actually taken on the expedition itself and possibly even recover some images from it.