Sir John Franklin
Original Author: Unknown
Created: ca. 1856
Medium: Oil on canvas

Sir John Franklin

Sir John Franklin, a British naval officer and explorer, is the subject of this posthumous portrait made circa 1856. Franklin's right hand lies atop a globe and covers the Canadian Arctic, where he sought the Northwest Passage on an expedition that began in 1845. The expedition was a disaster: the ships became icebound and Franklin died off King William Island in 1847. Over the course of the following year, the remaining members of his 128-man crew perished (evidence suggests that they eventually resorted to cannibalism). The disappearance of Franklin and his men became a celebrated cause and rescue attempts continued for decades after their deaths.