American, active 1850s–1870s and 1823–1892
Untitled, c. 1873
Copy negative from The Arctic Regions with drawing on the original plate by William Bradford or the photographers
On his final expedition, William Bradford, along with the Arctic explorer Isaac Israel Hayes (American, 1832–1881), recruited 24 crewmen and two photographers—John Dunmore and George Critcherson—who accompanied them aboard a sealing steamer. From July through October 1869, they ventured as far north as Melville Bay off the western Greenland coast. Bradford sketched outdoors in pencil and oil, while Dunmore and Critcherson captured the landscape using large glass plates.
Bradford published about 300 copies of his celebrated expedition journal, Arctic Regions, in 1873. Illustrated with 141 large albumen prints, this oversized book is considered a milestone in the history of photography.
Although Bradford was lauded for his truthfulness to nature (and some paintings do correspond closely to the photographs), both the artist and the photographers were not averse to altering the glass plate. In this view, a gigantic mountain of ice was scratched into the glass surface to elevate the landscape’s majesty. The unaltered photograph was included in Arctic Regions, but this view may have served only as a reference for Bradford’s paintings.