A Cavern beneath the Coastal Ice Cliffs.

HURLEY Frank ([1911-14].)


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Blue-carbon print. 585 by 440mm. Mounted on board with the original Fine Art Society label on the verso, titled in manuscript and numbered "95". A very fine copy with deep tones, minor areas of retouching done at time of printing. London, Fine Art Society,

From the collection of expedition leader, Douglas Mawson.


A depiction of surgeon Leslie Whetter on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914. This photograph is reproduced in Mawson’s official account Home of the Blizzard, 1915, with the caption “on the frozen sea in a cavern eaten out by the waves under the coastal ice-cliffs.” Mawson and Whetter had a tense relationship on the expedition. In his diary Mawson complains of his laziness saying “Whetter is not fit for a polar expedition... Of late he complains of overwork, and only does an honest 2 hours per day” (Riffenburgh. Racing With Death).


Original Hurley vintage prints are increasingly scarce on the market, especially in fine condition and with such distinguished provenance.


It would be satisfying to think that Hurley's " A Cavern..." was a response to Pontings famous "Ice Cave", the latter looking out through a geomorphic window towards the Terra Nova at anchor, a photograph that has achieved a deserved iconic status. Hurley, though, turns the viewers thoughts inward toward the unknown subterranean interior of the continent in a composition that apart from the inclusion of a figure, for scale, seems entirely abstract, and yet echoes somehow the knightly qualities of the heroic age. Unfortunately the chronology does not fit, and it is most unlikely Hurley saw the "Ice Cave" until his return. This exceptional image does combine, uniquely in my opinion, several factors. Firstly it is very rare, secondly it is a sublime composition, thirdly it is in impressive condition, the, sometimes fugitive, blue tones are as richly dark as intended by the photographer, and fourthly it has an unequalled provenance, what more could one want.

Stock Code: 228491

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