Exhibitions

In the nineteenth century, American artists increasingly used exploration as a vehicle for examining character, both personal and national. The painters of the Early Republic had sought to illustrate national identity by depicting the events and participants of the American Revolution. By the 1830s, however, a new school of artists had started to root American identity to the land itself. In the 1820s, painter Thomas Cole found his inspirations locally in the sometimes bucolic, sometimes fierce, landscapes of the Catskills. His pupil, Frederic Edwin Church, set off for more distant and difficult locales in the Rockies, the Andes, and ultimately the Arctic, producing scenes that thrilled East Coast audiences and established him as the preeminent landscape painter in America. [3-1, 3-2] More than fortune drove Church and fellow artists into the wild. They wanted to produce landscapes that moved beyond the conventions of European painting, embodying a distinctly American vision of nature. Artists traveled in hopes that the wilderness would get under their skin, alter their perceptions, and infuse their works with something unique. To educated Americans in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, this was not a silly or eccentric project. Church and the roaming artists of the Hudson School recapitulated a national story. As they sought the frontier, they were being shaped by it. Nowhere, they felt, could nature touch them as deeply as in the Arctic, the ultimate frontier, a place wild and sublime beyond measure. [3-3] [3-4] [3-8]

Iceberg at Sunset

Frederic Church (artist), USA, 1826-1900
Sarony Major & Knapp (lithographers), USA, 1857-1867
Louis Legrand Noble (author)
D. Appleton & Co. (publisher), USA
Iceberg at Sunset
from After Icebergs with a Painter: A Summer Voyage to Labrador and Around Newfoundland, 1861
lithograph in bound volume
Courtesy of Bates College Library

Arctic Scenery: Cape of Pillars, Crown Prince Rudolf Land

George C. Leighton (publisher)
Arctic Scenery: Cape of Pillars, Crown Prince Rudolf Land
from The Illustrated London News, September 11, 1875
wood engraving
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OML-1875-27

13718.0001
“The American Franklin Search Expedition: Reindeer Hunting,” ILN, 8 Jan 1881

Such was the power of the Franklin search on the American imagination that Americans would still be leading expeditions to find the party thirty years after Franklin’s disappearance. Lt. Frederick Schwatka’s expedition, pictured here, left the United States in 1878 in search of Franklin relics. Sensitive to the charge that Arctic exploration had become costly, risky, and increasingly irrelevant, expedition artists such as Heinrich W. Klutschak gave expeditionary life a patriotic gloss. In this scene, Schwatka’s reindeer hunt bears a strong resemblance to Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crosses the Delaware which had become famous thirty years earlier in New York City.

H.W. Klutschak (artist)
George C. Leighton, (publisher)
The American Franklin Search Expedition: Crossing Simpson's Strait in Kayaks
from The Illustrated London News, January 8, 1881
wood engraving
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OML-1881-22

13707.0001
"There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft." The Arctic Expedition: The "Crow's Nest”

The Graphic (publisher), England, est. 1869
"There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft." The Arctic Expedition: The "Crow's Nest”
from The Graphic – An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, Vol. XI – No. 287, May 29, 1875
wood engraving
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OML-1875-26

13703.0001
The American Franklin Search Expedition: Reinder-Hunting in Kayaks

H.W. Klutschak (artist)
George C. Leighton (publisher)
The American Franklin Search Expedition: Reinder-Hunting in Kayaks
from The Illustrated London News, January 8, 1881
wood engraving
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OML-1881-23

13705.0001
Arctic Scene

Arnold Guyot (author), USA (b. Switzerland), 1807-1884
Charles Scribner and Company, USA, est. 1865
Arctic Scene
from The Earth and Its Inhabitants: Common School Geography in Guyot's Geographical Series Intermediate Geography, 1870
wood engraving in bound volume
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OS-1870-1

3674.0001
Latitude and Longitude

Alexis Everett Frye (author), USA, 1859-1936
Ginn & Company, USA
Latitude and Longitude
from Frye's Grammar School Geography Part II, Circa 1910
photomechanical wood engraving in bound volume
Courtesy of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
OS-1910-16

3982.0001
An Island of Ice As It Appeared to Us from the Prow of Thomas Mathew Sam'll Partridge Commander in the Latt. 43.50 N bearing NbW 4 miles by Francis Vallnight

Francis Vallnight
An Island of Ice As It Appeared to Us from the Prow of Thomas Mathew Sam'll Partridge Commander in the Latt. 43.50 N bearing NbW 4 miles by Francis Vallnight. July:25: 1754
ink and watercolor on laid paper
Gift of Winifred Deering in memory of Roger Deering