George Back fonds [graphic material, textual record (chiefly microform)]
Record Information – Brief
George Back fonds [graphic material, textual record (chiefly microform)]
- Hierarchical level:
- R3881-0-6-E, MG24-H62
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Art
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Link to this page:
This link identifies the web page describing this particular record. Unlike the temporary link in your browser, this link will allow you to access, and reference, this page in the future. To link to this descriptive record, copy and paste the URL where ever needed (wiki, blog, document).http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.redirect?app=fonandcol&id=100256&lang=eng
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
6 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
- Added country of publication:
- United Kingdom
1 sketchbook (1818) of 25 drawings; pencil.
1 sketchbook (1819-1821): 93 leaves, including 33 watercolours, 3 drawings, 54 maps, and 3 pages of inscriptions; watercolour, pen and ink, pencil; 11.5 x 18.0 cm.
110 prints: engraving, aquatint, etching, some hand coloured, lithograph; various dimensions.
0.1 cm of textual records (2 p.).
2 microfilm reels negative and positive.
1 sketchbook (1821-1822): 83 folios and interleaving containing 33 watercolours, 3 drawings, 45 maps, and 19 pages of inscriptions; watercolour, pen and ink, pencil; 11.5 x 18.0 cm.
1 sketchbook, 1826: 3 watercolours, 46 drawings; pencil, watercolour, pen and ink; 13.0 x 21.0 cm.
1 sketchbook, 1825-1826: 65 watercolours; watercolour, watercolour over pencil; 13.0 x 21.0 cm.
1 sketchbook, 1833-1835: 6 watercolours, 37 drawings; watercolour, pencil; 13.0 x 21.0 cm.
11 watercolours: watercolour, pen and ink, pencil; various dimensions.
1 drawing: pencil.
2 reproductions: photogravure; photograph.
- Language of material:
- Added language of material:
- English, French, Inuktitut
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of artwork related to various expeditions in which George Back either participated or which he commanded. It consists of sketchbooks, loose images and prints, which were used to illustrate the published accounts of the various voyages. The earliest items are Back's sketchbook of 1818 from the Buchan expedition, but there are also two sketchbooks from the 1819-22 overland expedition led by John Franklin which contain, in addition to artwork, 98 manuscript maps, two sketchbooks from the 1825-1827 expedition to the Arctic, and one sketchbook relating to George Back's 1833-1835 expedition to the Arctic. The latest watercolour dates to ca. 1840 when Back was recuperating in Italy from his last Arctic expedition. Fonds also consists of microfilmed material relating to the career of George Back including journals kept on trips to the Arctic, 1819-1822, 1827-1829, and 1833-1835, as well as meteorological notes, and Eskimo vocabulary, a letterbook 1834-1835, and a few miscellaneous items. This material is located on microfilm reels A-820 and A-821. In addition, there is a letter from George Back to Edward Cooke, a British marine artist, which mentions Cooke's polar scene for the Academy, suggests a visit by Cooke to see Back's picture of an iceberg and the H.M.S. Terror, a ship lost with the Franklin Expedition, painted in 1858.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Back, George, Sir, 1796-1878 : George Back was born in 1796 and joined the Royal Navy as a first-class volunteer in 1808. He was captured the following year, and spent five years as a prisoner in Verdun, France, where he studied mathematics, French, and drawing. He returned to active service in 1814, serving as a midshipman on board HMS Akbar on the Halifax station. In 1818, he volunteered for Arctic exploration service under Commanders Buchan and John Ross, and was appointed midshipman on board HMS Trent, which with the HMS Dorothea attempted the Northeast Passage via Spitsbergen and over the North Pole to Bering Strait. Although the attempt failed, the expedition achieved a record latitude of 82 degrees 34 minutes N. Back's commanding officer Lieutenant John Franklin was impressed by his ability, and asked Back to join his overland expedition (1819-1822) to chart the northern coast of Canada from the mouth of the Coppermine River to Repulse Bay. The expedition spent three years on its efforts, during which Back carried out extensive exploratory work, and recorded hundreds of sketches of Arctic scenery, flora, fauna, and peoples. In 1825, he joined Franklin's second overland expedition (1825-27), this time to explore the Arctic coast to the east and west of the Mackenzie River, and if possible to join up with the sea expedition led by Captain Frederick Beechey. Again Back recorded many sketches of the expedition, a number of which were published in the account of the expedition. In 1833, Back led an exploratory party (1833-35) down the Great Fish River (later renamed the Back in his honour) to further chart the Arctic coast. In 1836, he led an expedition by sea on board HMS Terror to trace the coast of the Polar Sea between Repulse Bay and Point Turnagain, the furthest point reached in Franklin's first overland expedition. The trials suffered by Back on this expedition incapacitated him for six years, and ended his active career as an Arctic explorer. He published a "Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition to the Mouth of the Great Fish River", 1836 and a "Narrative of an Expedition in the ship H.M.S. Terror", 1838. Knighted in 1839, and promoted Admiral in 1876, Back maintained an intense interest in Arctic exploration for the rest of his life. Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. I (Oxford University Press); Dictionary of Canadian Biography Vol. X (1871-1880) (University of Toronto Press, 1972).
- Finding aid:
Textual records (Electronic) A list of the items microfilmed is available. MSS0735 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001280.pdfGraphic material (Electronic) The art material has been described at the item-level in MINISIS-ICON database. (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- Letter from George Back to Edward Cooke, 1858, received in 1977.
- Custodial history:
- Because their provenance is mostly unknown, a large number of George Back prints have not been inventoried as collections but are accounted for here. There are 43 items listed here where the provenance is known. Finally what is also included as part of the print series are individual prints which have been copied from the prints which appear in the published accounts of the various journeys. The six sketchbooks have been acquired through family descent (Mrs. Duckworth, 1955 and Mrs. Morton 1994), through a dealer (Henry Stevens, Sons & Stiles, 1921), and at auction (Christies 1997). Single-sheet watercolours have been acquired through various sources.
- Location of originals note:
- Microfilm copied from the negative held by the Department of Mines, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, U.K.
- Availability of other formats note:
- Three of the sketchbooks, two from the 1825-26 expedition led by John Franklin, and one from the 1833-35 expedition, led by George Back himself, have been published in microfiche form (Archives of Canada microfiches: #11-#15). All the original George Back art material has been photographed in black & white, and many also in colour., The copy negative number of the item digitized is C-145920 (colour transp.) (ICON)
- Related material:
- The Bushnell Collection, acquired in 1981, contains four watercolours of the 1818 Buchan Expedition done by George Back; the Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana contains one watercolour by George Back.
- Subject heading:
- Inuktitut language
- Arctic region - Discovery and exploration, 1819-1835 Edward Cooke [1819-1835]
- Arctic regions - Exploring expeditions, 1819-1835 Franklin Expedition 1858
- Arctic regions - Weather, 1819-1835 Terror (ship), 1858
- George Back - Diaries, 1819-1835
- Meteorology - Observations - Arctic, 1819-1835
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Artistic material: No restrictions. Physical access through an art archivist.
Originals in container 2 have been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers must use photocopies in container 1.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1994-254 which consist of 2 sketchbooks was acquired with the assistance of Hoechst-Celanese Canada and with a grant from the Department of Heritage through the Cultural Property Import and Export Act.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1997-280 which consists of a sketchbook which was acquired with the assistance of a grant from the Department of Heritage through the Cultural Property Import and Export Act.
- Date modified: