The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin

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The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin

by Stephen Pearce
oil on canvas, 1851
46 1/4 in. x 72 1/8 in. (1175 mm x 1833 mm)
Bequeathed by one of the sitters, John Barrow, 1899
Primary Collection
NPG 1208

Artistback to top

  • Stephen Pearce (1819-1904), Portrait and equestrian painter. Artist or producer associated with 64 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

An expedition led by Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) was sent out by the Admiralty in May 1845 to try and find a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1847 the Admiralty, advised by the sailors and explorers depicted, decided to organise a search; not until 1854 was it discovered that the expedition had died of starvation.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 905: John Barrow (study)
  • NPG 918: Sir Francis Beaufort (study)
  • NPG 911: Frederick William Beechey (study)
  • NPG 908: William Alexander Baillie Hamilton (study)
  • NPG 912: Sir William Edward Parry (study)
  • NPG 909: Sir John Richardson (study)
  • NPG 913: Sir James Clark Ross (study)
  • NPG 907: Sir Edward Sabine (study)
  • NPG D9472: The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1851back to top

Current affairs

A population census is taken of all the people living in Britain, recording details about every householder on the night of March 30. This census greatly extends the fields of the 1841 census, being the first to record full details of individuals' birth locations, exact age, marital status, and details of disability, thus making it a valuable tool for demographers and genealogists. The census was made open for public inspection in 1912.

Art and science

The Great Exhibition is held in London,at the Crystal Palace, especially designed by Sir Joseph Paxton. The international exhibition was designed to showcase the best in science, art and industry. it attracted millions of visitors.
Lizzie Siddal poses for John Millais's painting Ophelia.
Hermann von Helmotz invents the ophthalmoscope, making it possible for doctors to examine within a patient's eye.


Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, President of the French Republic, stages a coup d'état, successfully dissolving the French National Assembly without having the constitutional right to do so. Now the sole ruler of France, he re-establishes universal suffrage, previously abolished by the Assembly and becomes 'Napoléon III, Emperor of the French'.

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