During the 1860s and 1870s the Arctic was a central preoccupation for the American artist William Bradford (1823-1892). Captivated by what he described as "the terrible aspects of the Frigid Zone," Bradford mounted his most ambitious Arctic expedition in 1869 and enlisted the services of professional photographers John L. Dunmore and George Critcherson to document the voyage. Bradford used these photographs to illustrate The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland, a travelogue recounting the expedition, which is today considered a landmark in the history of the photographically illustrated book. He also used the photographs, together with his own sketches, as inspiration for large-scale paintings executed later in his New York studio. Arctic Diary: Paintings and Photographs by William Bradford explores the relationship between image and narrative in The Arctic Regions and the paintings the 1869 expedition generated.
In 1999 the Clark Art Institute Library acquired a copy of The Arctic Regions with funds given by the Scott Opler Foundation. The book has been temporarily disassembled for necessary conservation treatment, providing a unique opportunity to display the individual pages. All of the photographs in this exhibition are from The Arctic Regions unless otherwise noted.
Cover of The Artic Regions
An Arctic Summer: Boring Through the Pack Ice at Melville Bay