Here’s an amazing story that is also a bit of a mystery. The New Zealand Antarctic Trust has discovered a 118-year old painting in Antarctica that was painted by Dr. Edward Wilson, a member of the ill-fated Scott Expedition that set out for the South Pole in 1911. Wilson was known for being an artist of natural history paintings and drawings, and there is even a museum in his hometown Cheltenham, England that proudly displays his work. But the discovery of this particular piece of art came as a complete surprise.
“I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting… I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again. I then took the painting out and couldn’t stop looking at it – the colours, the vibrancy, it is such a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t believe it was there.”
At first it wasn’t clear who the artist was, but it was believed to have been someone from Scott’s expedition from 1911 or a Norwegian team that had been at Cape Adare back in 1899. But Bergmark-Jimenez later attended a lecture on Wilson and his work and recognized the art style immediately.
But just how the painting found its way into the hut remain a mystery.
“It’s likely that Wilson painted it while he was recovering from tuberculosis in Europe. Clearly, he could have taken the painting to Antarctica on either of Scott’s expeditions but we think it’s more likely the artwork travelled with him in 1911, and somehow made its way from Cape Evans to Cape Adare.”
We’ll probably never know exactly how it got there, and once the Trust is done restoring the huts, all of the artifacts will be returned to it. But, it certainly is another interesting slice of Antarctic history.
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