Exploring the Arctic, Oil paintings, Fine art

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Sir John Ross (1777-1856) [or more probably Sir James Clark Ross, 1800-62]

BHC2982
Exploring the Arctic

Object connections:

Collection Exploring the Arctic, Oil paintings, Fine art
ExhibitionsNorth-West Passage
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Ross, John

Object details:

Object ID BHC2982
Description This painting was acquired in 1938 with the received identification of John Ross, but current (2019) comparisons suggest it is more probably his nephew, James Clark Ross, though the artist remains unidentified. It shows the sitter in civilian dress wearing a fur-collared cape loosely round his shoulders, the yellow flashes to the left probably being the metal chain fastening. John Ross was promoted to commander in 1812 after considerable Baltic service in which, while a lieutenant in 1809, he became a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Sword. He subsequently continued on largely northern naval service until leading his first Arctic expedition in 1818. He was only promoted to captain on his return that December. The fur cloak could allude to any of this, but he is clearly shown as a fairly young man. He would have been 40 in 1817 and, while he had strong features, he was not as handsome as the present sitter, so apparent age and appearance are both reasons for doubting the received identification. The rather aquiline nose profile and long hairstyle compare better with his nephew, and the dress, especially the high wing collar also sits more easily in the 1820s.
Date made circa 1812-18 [or circa 1820-30 if the latter]

Artist/Maker British School, 19th century
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Frame: 965 mm x 840 mm x 120 mm;Painting: 760 mm x 635 mm
Parts
  • Sir John Ross (1777-1856) [or more probably Sir James Clark Ross, 1800-62] (BHC2982)
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