Whaling Barque Icebound in the Arctic - F. Appleyard (1864)
oil on canvas, 45 x 59 cm
KINCM:2007.2247, Hull Maritime Museum

This comparatively straightforward image depicts an unnamed three-masted whaling barque nipped in the Arctic ice. The ship is shown in a lost bow, predominantly starboard view, tilting at a precarious angle, emphasising, by the lack of a surrounding passage, how quickly environmental conditions could shift in the Arctic, even in the comparatively temperate summer months. To the left of the vessel are the crew, perhaps with their dogs, who have removed the whale boats from the bows of the ship to prevent them from being crushed, and as potential sources of shelter. The fact that the boats resemble Inuit wooden toys of sea mammals, seen elsewhere in this exhibition, might suggest the crew are at least well provisioned. Also encouragingly, above the dirty ice there are patches of blue in the sky. It might be perishingly cold, but at least it’s not also dark. Across the Arctic in Quebec in 1864, the year the picture was painted, a conference was taking place to discuss the creation of a Dominion of Canada. Questions of circum-polar sovereignty would only become more contested. 

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Credit: Images are courtesy of the Hull Maritime Museum