The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland, with a Descriptive Narrative by the Artist: Bradford, William (Michael Lapides, ed)
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The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland, with a Descriptive Narrative by the Artist

Author(s): Bradford, William (Michael Lapides, ed)

Copyright: 2013, US
Specifications: Trade ed of 1000 copies, oblong 8vo, pp.xxv, 170, photo frontis, 145 bw photos, map, marbled eps, silver dec dark/light blue cloth
Condition: dj & cloth new

William Bradford (1823-1892) was an American romanticist painter, photographer and explorer, born and brought up in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. He began his professional art career painting ship portraits. In 1861, he obtained financial backing for a journey to sketch and photograph the coast of Labrador. On this and six subsequent voyages, he became fascinated with the special qualities of atmospheric light in northern regions. “This volume,” Bradford explained, “is the result of an expedition to the Arctic Regions, made solely for the purposes of art, in the summer of 1869.” Bradford brought with him the eminent Arctic explorer and author Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, and engaged the 450-ton steamer Panther to sail from St. John's, Newfoundland. On July 3rd they departed, carrying a “party of adventurers whose story is partially illustrated by the photographic views contained in this volume.” Bradford became one of the first American painters to pursue the dream of painting the Arctic regions firsthand. He had made several previous voyages, but none this ambitious or far-reaching. His purpose was always to study nature under its “terrible” aspects, to acquire material for later use in his artwork and after that in lectures illustrated with stereopticon views. On this voyage Bradford brought along two photographers from Boston, John L. Dunmore and George P. Critcherson. They were the first photographic professionals to document so northerly a voyage. Although credited as the official photographers, it is now believed Bradford himself may have taken many of the pictures, which feature remarkable scenes of icebergs and ice floes in addition to pictures of indigenous “Eskimaux” and moored ships. The images added the crucial aura of “truth” to Bradford's work. While other artists had depicted the northern regions, none had made photography so central a part of the artistic process. In the text, Bradford recounts a voyage in which he worked under adverse conditions. The harsh weather often caused major setbacks, delays, and annoyances among the crew.

A landmark in the annals of American photography and polar adventure, Bradford's book was first published for subscribers in 1873 in London. No more than 300 copies of the leather-bound elephant folio are known to have been printed. The work included 141 mounted albumen photographs and a double-page panorama, which set the book apart from other accounts which were illustrated with engravings. A copy of this scarce work recently sold at auction for $180,000.

This important book is now available in both special and trade editions, with an introduction by noted polar historian Russell Potter.


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