A 118-Year-Old Painting Found In Antarctica's First Building

By Ian Morris on at

The New Zealand Antarctic Trust has revealed that it has been sitting on (not literally) a painting by Dr Edward Wilson. The watercolour was discovered in an Antarctic hut and is currently being restored by the Trust. Usually a watercolour would have faded significantly over this period, but being kept in freezing temperatures and in pitch blackness have preserved it perfectly.

The Trust discovered the painting in September last year, but kept it a secret so the team could get on with restoring the 1,500 items recovered from the site without some sort of media circus. The Antarctic area is protected, so once all of the huts and other artefacts are restored they must be returned to the site.

Dr Edward Wilson was a British scientist who went with Captain Robert Scott to the South Pole in 1912 on the Terra Nova expedition. Scott had appointed Wilson as his chief scientist and said of him "I believe he really is the finest character I ever met". As we know, the entire team died in March of that year.

The painting was unearthed by Antarctic Heritage Trust Paper Conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez. She was cleaning a portfolio when she discovered the painting and said "I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting... I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again. I then took the painting out and couldn’t stop looking at it - the colours, the vibrancy, it is such a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t believe it was there".

The painting shows a Tree Creeper specimen and is dated 1899, which means that it had been transported around with Wilson for some time before he headed to his eventual demise. It's certainly exciting to see such an old picture with the vibrancy and colour that it would have had when it was originally painted.

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