| || |
Edward Augustus Inglefield
Glass plate negative
16.2 x 21.2 cm
National Maritime Museum
Repro ID: G04258 ® National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
The National Maritime Museum provides the context for this photograph:
When Captain Inglefield set sail for the Arctic in summer 1854, The Times reported that he took with him 'a most complete series of the articles used by photographists for depicting nature as seen in the Polar regions'. Inglefield had seen the new technique of wet glass-plate photography at the 1851 Great Exhibition and Archer's Manual of the Collodion Photographic Process, published in 1852, explained what to do.
The Admiralty sent Inglefield to Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic. He was to make contact with the naval squadron searching for traces of Sir John Franklin, whose voyage to find the North-West Passage had set out nine years earlier. On the way north, British exploring ships always called at the ports of west Greenland for supplies and final preparations. They often took Inuit on board as interpreters and bought sledge dogs.
Greenland was a Danish colony but the population was almost entirely Inuit. Small towns had by then grown up along the coast where the Danish officials and missionaries lived. In winter they were totally isolated but the summer months were enlivened by visits of naval ships, trading vessels and whalers.
These photographs convey, with astonishing clarity, the personalities of a diverse mixture of people caught on camera more than 150 years ago.