Lot 22 of 137:
Bradford’s Arctic Regions with 141 albumen photos  

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The Arctic Regions, Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland by William Bradford. With a descriptive narrative by the artist

Bradford, William


Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle


[10], 89 pp. With 141 mounted albumen photographs by John Dunmore and George Critcherson, comprising 25 large prints mounted on thick card stock (one of these a double-page panorama of the Sermitsialik Glacier), and 116 prints of various sizes mounted in the text. The text printed on thick paper, both text and plates in linen hinges, as issued. 62x49.5 cm. (24½x19½”), original publisher's brown morocco with a large vignette of an arctic scene and elaborate decoration after a design by Bradford on each cover, spine in six compartments with raised bands gilt, gilt edges, marbled endpapers; bound by Leighton, Son & Hodge (with their ticket). First (and only) Edition. A superb example of one of the most spectacular photographically illustrated books, and the greatest of all illustrated books on the Arctic. Magnificently produced, this massive folio is finely printed on thick paper with a richly tooled full morocco binding, its striking photographs being mounted both throughout the text and on separate leaves. Containing the first published photographs of Arctic regions – the book captures the frozen coasts and interior of Greenland together with their Eskimo settlements – Bradford’s work is considered a landmark both in the history of photography and in the history of travel books. William Bradford (1823-1892), a painter of the Hudson River School, is known for his paintings of ships and Arctic seascapes. In 1869, having secured the sponsorship of a wealthy patron in Le Grand Lockwood (to whose memory the book is dedicated, he having passed away in 1872), Bradford chartered the steamship The Panther, and set off for Greenland, to set the frozen north to pen and paper. The aim was to venture as far as ice would permit, deep into Melville Bay in Greenland, primarily to make sketches and also to explore the region. He hired for the expedition the photographers John L. Dunmore and George Critcherson from Boston, who had traveled with Bradford before, and the noted Arctic explorer Dr. Isaac Hayes also joined the party. The three month summer trip was a great success; Bradford produced a large number of sketches and Dunmore and Critcherson took hundreds of photographs (Bradford is now believed to have taken a number of the photographs himself). The remarkable photographs, made under extremely harsh freezing conditions, are a tribute to the skill and fortitude of the photographers. Once back in his studio, Bradford used the sketches and photographs to create many fine, finished paintings. In 1871 and 1872 Bradford exhibited the paintings and sketches in England to great acclaim, and attracted the patronage of Queen Victoria. This prompted Bradford to plan publication of an album of photographs, and when Queen Victoria and other members of the royal family added their names as subscribers (at a cost of 25 guineas apiece), the “album” was transformed into a lavish publication, with a text combining sober scientific observation with romantic hyperbole. Three hundred copies were proposed (some sources say 350), although it is thought that significantly fewer were actually published. Truthful Lens, 24; Gernsheim Incunabula, S70. OFFERED FOR PRIVATE TREATY SALE. PLEASE CONTACT THE GALLERIES.

Lot Amendments

Minor rubbing to extremities, spine foot expertly restored; scattered light foxing to mounts and text (much less so than normatively), some photographs with slight edge-fading (as often occurs with photographs of this period), some occasional and normative offsetting onto photographs and text - overall in fine or nearly fine condition, a magnificent example of both a photographically-illustrated book and an account of arctic exploration, arguably without peer. Offered here on what is being commemorated as the hundredth anniversary of polar exploration, marking the Antarctic expeditions of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.

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