Sunday, May 19, 2013

Samuel Gurney Cresswell

Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827-1867) was the official ship's artist and Second Lieutenant aboard the HMS Investigator, during an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. 


The Investigator was on a mission to find two other lost ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror from the ill-fated 1845-48 British Arctic Expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin. 
In 1853, the Investigator also became locked in ice. The sixty-nine man crew had no choice but to abandon ship. Samuel Gurney Creswell documented the expedition in watercolor, showing life on deck, the ship trapped in ice, and the eventual rescue.
 His watercolors from the Investigator expedition were interpreted in a lithographic portfolio called "A Series of Eight Sketches in Colour," published in London in 1854.
The HMS Investigator has recently been discovered in the shallows of Mercy Bay by underwater archaeologists.

Samuel Gurney Creswell's story, including his encounter with pirates while serving in the seas off China, is told in the book: War, Ice and Piracy: The Remarkable Career of a Victorian Sailor

7 comments:

Steve said...

I love the shift from cool to warm between the two images. Remarkable he was able to do field watercolors (or watercolours) in freezing temperatures. I'm thinking you occupy branches of the same family tree, yes?

Keith Parker said...

Was his mother's side some of your kin?

David Keeter said...

This is very cool. Oh. No pun intended. Unrelated:I just got done reading "River of Doubt" which is about the Teddy Roosevelt expedition in the Amazon. It would've been amazing to see watercolors from that trip. The only records I've found are black and white photography... and those weren't from the actual excursion but before and after.

Erik Bongers said...

Hear, hear, to Steve.

James Gurney said...

Steve, yes, he's a distant relation, from the Norwich Gurneys, where my ancestor (and Goldsworthy Gurney) all come from.

Alhaitham Jassar said...

So I see art is in you blood :)

Joe said...

Interesting, hadn't heard of this till friend sent me the link. By pure coincidence taking photos in a vast, old Edinburgh graveyard this month I found a memorial to a young officer from the original expedition this ship was sent in search of, memorial has the story carved on it and rather nice carved relief of the ships in the ice and men struggling onto the ice http://www.flickr.com/photos/woolamaloo_gazette/tags/hmsterror/